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

Hits: 734

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!
Titoslavia: The National Questions and Interrepublican Boundaries
After WWII, the official state-sponsored myth, based on notorious lies and forged historical facts, of the anti-fascist combat and the liberation of Yugoslavia by Tito’s Partisans acquired a political life of its own until the 1990s.The official brainwashed dogma became the so-called National Liberation of Yugoslavia while the personal cult of Josip Broz Tito became framed on the propaganda that self-proclaimed “Marshall” of Yugoslavia (on November 29th, 1943 in Bosnian town of Jajce) was one of the most intelligent and ingenious national leaders of the anti-fascist coalition in Europe during the wartime.[i] However, in post-1945 Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia ...
READ MORE
Kosovo: Europe’s “Mafia State”: Hub of the EU-NATO Drug Trail
Kosovo’s Prime Minister Accused of Running Human Organ, Drug Trafficking CartelIn another grim milestone for the United States and NATO, the Council of Europe (COE) released an explosive report last week, “Inhuman treatment of people and illicit trafficking in human organs in Kosovo.”The report charged that former Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) boss and current Prime Minister, Hashim Thaçi, “is the head of a ‘mafia-like’ Albanian group responsible for smuggling weapons, drugs and human organs through eastern Europe,” The Guardian disclosed.According to a draft resolution unanimously approved December 16 in Paris, the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights found compelling ...
READ MORE
70 Years of Disinformation: How the CIA Funded Opinion Magazines in Europe
When an intelligence agency arranges to disseminated fake news it is called “disinformation” and it is a subset of what is referred to as covert action, basically secret operations run in a foreign country to influence opinion or to disrupt the functioning of a government or group that is considered to be hostile.During the Cold War, disinformation operations were run by many of the leading players in both the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and in the opposition Warsaw Pact. Sometimes the activity and the sponsorship were clearly visible, as when Radio Free Europe and Radio Moscow would exchange barbs about ...
READ MORE
The Operation Barbarossa II File: But Who will Prosecute?
As some of you may remember I am compiling a criminal dossier on the western powers concerning, among other things, their preparations for Operation Barbarossa II, the term that I use for NATO’s build-up of forces in Eastern Europe threatening the security of Russia.In June, the BALTOPS 2017 NATO naval and air exercises were conducted in the Baltic Sea near Kaliningrad and the approaches to St. Petersburg simultaneously with the Saber Strike military ground exercises in Latvia and Lithuania.On July 11th NATO’s Sea Breeze naval exercises began in the Black Sea, threatening Russia’s southern flank. The NATO exercises are conducted ...
READ MORE
Reviving the ‘Chemical Weapons’ Lie: New US-UK Calls for Regime Change, Military Attack Against Syria
Here it comes again. As the enemies of peace continue to pressure a new US President into deeper war commitments overseas, and as Washington’s Deep State works relentlessly opposing Russian moves in Syria at every turn, the war drums have started again – beating harder than ever now, clamouring for a new US-led attack on Syria. This morning we saw the familiar theme emerge, and just in time to provide a convenient backdrop to this week’s Brussels’ ‘Peace Talks’ and conference on “Syria’s Future”. The US-led ‘Coalition’ prepares to make its end-run into Syria to ‘Retake Raqqa,’ and impose its Safe Zones in order ...
READ MORE
Prelude to World War III
Unless Syria will simply hand its most heavily pro-jihadist province, Idlib, to adjoining Turkey, which claims to have 30,000 troops there and is planning to add 20,000 more, World War III will probably happen soon, and here is why: Russia’s troops are in Syria at the invitation of Syria’s Government and they have provided crucial assistance to restore the Government’s control over areas that the jihadists (sometimes called “Radical Islamic Terrorists” or otherwise) had seized. Consequently, unlike the Turks and the Americans, who are invaders of Syria, Russia is instead a defender of Syria, and is committed to doing there only ...
READ MORE
“What About Crimea?” – Latest Narrative From Canada’s Foreign Minister
A news compilation on New Cold War.org on March 8, 2017 reported the controversy that has broken out in Canada surrounding the family history of Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland. Her maternal grandfather edited two pro-German newspapers in Poland and Austria during World War Two. He and his family settled in Canada after the war. The minister told a March 6 press conference in Ottawa that inquiries into her family history constitute a ‘Russia disinformation’ campaign directed at her and the Canadian government. The minister as well as sympathetic journalists state that the ‘disinformation’ has been aided and abetted by ...
READ MORE
Afghanistan: It is the Heroin, Stupid
Here we go again. In yet another Pentagon precision strike, a residential building in Achin district of Nangarhar province was hit as a crowd welcomed home a tribal leader returning from the Hajj.At least 13 civilians were turned into «collateral damage». The Pentagon of course does not «discuss the details of counter-terror operations», but it’s «currently reviewing all materials related to this strike».Nothing obviously will come out of it – adding the civilian dead to the non-stop mounting toll of Operation Enduring Freedom (Forever).Someone that actually is bound to endure his freedom in full splendor is former warlord, head of ...
READ MORE
Israel’s Nuclear Arsenal and Weapons of Mass Destruction: A Threat to World Peace
This carefully research article by John Steinbach on Israel’s nuclear arsenal was first published by Global Research in March 2002 “Should war break out in the Middle East again,… or should any Arab nation fire missiles against Israel, as the Iraqis did, a nuclear escalation, once unthinkable except as a last resort, would now be a strong probability.” Seymour Hersh(1) “Arabs may have the oil, but we have the matches.” Ariel Sharon(2) With between 200 and 500 thermonuclear weapons and a sophisticated delivery system, Israel has quietly supplanted Britain as the World’s 5th Largest nuclear power, and may currently rival France and China ...
READ MORE
The Balkans today
After the Russian military victory over the Ottoman Empire in the 1877−1878 Russo-Ottoman War it was signed the San Stefano Treaty between these two states on March 3rd, 1878. According to the treaty, a Greater “San Stefano” Bulgaria, under the direct protection by Russia, had to be established within the borders of the Ottoman Empire. However, an idea of “San Stefano Bulgaria” directly affected three Balkan nations: the Serbs, Greeks and Albanians as some of their ethnic and historical territories had to become part of a Greater Bulgaria. The “San Stefano Bulgaria” was projected by the Russian authorities to cover ...
READ MORE
China: Rise, Fall and Re-Emergence as a Global Power
The study of world power has been blighted by Eurocentric historians who have distorted and ignored the dominant role China played in the world economy between 1100 and 1800.  John Hobson’s[1] brilliant historical survey of the world economy during this period provides an abundance of empirical data making the case for China ’s economic and technological superiority over Western civilization for the better part of a millennium prior to its conquest and decline in the 19th century. China ’s re-emergence as a world economic power raises important questions about what we can learn from its previous rise and fall and about ...
READ MORE
Syrian Rebels Get Arms from Kosovo and Bosnia
The DEBKA website, close to Israeli military intelligence, knows well all the behind the curtain details of regional politics. A few days ago it reported about basically new turns of the way the events unfold in Syria. According to it, the Syrian extremists received a load of heavy weapons for the first time since the war started. The senders are the groups from Kosovo and the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina linked to Al Qaeda. The package includes Kornet and Fagot anti-tank systems delivered by the Soviet Union to former Yugoslavia in the past. The weapons ended up in the ...
READ MORE
Libya: Before and after the Fall of Moamer Gaddafi
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"]SaveSave
READ MORE
On the Origins of Proto-Croats and Proto-Serbs
Contemporary historiography and the Slavonic studies upon the question of the ethnolinguistic origin of the Croats and the Serbs more and more incline on the side of those authors who support the linguistic theory of the Indo-Sarmatian (the Iranian) origins of proto-Croats and proto-Serbs.The Indo-European Iranian originAccording to this contemporary explanation, Croats and Serbs were the people of the Iranian (the Sarmatian) origin, who migrated into the Balkans in the 7th century and subjected the Slavs there. However, in the course of time, they became totally slavicized (like proto-Turkic Bulgars who were settled on the Balkans between the Danube River ...
READ MORE
EXCLUSIVE: Unreleased Documents from Osama Bin Laden’s Archive!
The personal diary of Osama Bin Laden has been released by the CIA, along with the list of bizarre things on his personal computer found in his compound in 2011.However, not all documents found on that occasion are released by the CIA.Here you will find some of those unreleased documents from Osama Bin Laden's archives followed by his personal remarks: My favorite US DemocratKosovo Albanians are my favorite jihad soldiers in the ISIS in Syria and IraqMy favorite film-maker company: 20 Century FoxWhy Americans hate me and my Al-Qaeda?A global map of Al-Qaeda's terror interventions - top secret! Zbig and ...
READ MORE
The Myth of Hiroshima
With rare exception, the question of whether the atomic bombs were necessary to end World War Two is debated only deep within the safety of academic circles. Could a land invasion have been otherwise avoided? Would more diplomacy have achieved the same ends without the destruction of two cities? Could an atomic test on a deserted island have convinced the Japanese? Was the surrender instead driven primarily by the entry of the Soviets into the Pacific War, which, by historical accident, took place two days after Hiroshima—and the day before Nagasaki was immolated? But it is not only the history of the ...
READ MORE
America’s “Humanitarian War” against the World
The following  text is a point by point thematic summary of Prof. Michel Chossudovsky‘s presentation at the Science for Peace Conference, Academy of Sciences, Malaysia. Kuala Lumpur, 15-16 August 2016.IntroductionHistorically, science has supported the development of the weapons industry and the war economy. “Science for Peace” indelibly requires reversing the logic whereby commissioned  scientific endeavors are directed towards supporting what President Eisenhower called “The Military Industrial Complex”.What is consequently required is a massive redirection of science and technology towards the pursuit of broad societal objectives. In turn, this requires a major shift in what is euphemistically called “US Foreign Policy”, namely ...
READ MORE
“Russiagate” is Actually “Israelgate”: Trump as “Agent of Israel”, not of Russia?
The Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s main evidence thus far in his “Russiagate” probe is not actually about possible Russian collusion with Trump to win the Presidency, but instead about definite Israeli collusion with Trump after Trump had already won the Presidency but before he became inaugurated. As a lawyer explained on the day when Trump’s former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn was indicted in a plea-deal: “Mr. Flynn has just become the prosecution’s star witness.” What Flynn had pled to was his trying to obtain Russia’s support for Israel’s Government, against the Palestinians. Russia said no; Putin said no to Flynn’s request, ...
READ MORE
Oliver Stone’s American History: “We’re not under Threat. We are the Threat”
As he launches his new TV series offering a critical view of US overseas exploits, the film director tells MEE he didn’t always see it that way. American controversies are Oliver Stone’s forte. The Hollywood movie director has turned his cameras on the assassination of John F Kennedy, the Vietnam War and the 9/11 attacks. But, when researching his television series, The Untold History of the United States, it was American exploits in the Middle East that left him with the most lasting impression, he told Middle East Eye on Wednesday. “When I studied the untold history, one thing that really hit me hard was ...
READ MORE
Kosovo Serbs ‘Terrified’ by Proposed Creation of a “Greater Albania”
Fresh calls for a Greater Albania, incorporating the southern Serbian province of Kosovo, have led to an angry backlash from politicians in Belgrade.Sputnik Radio’s Mark Hirst talked to Marko Djuric, Director of the Government Office for Kosovo and Metohija.Such a move by Albania, if acted upon, could plunge the entire region back into a bloody and costly war on a scale not seen since the 1990s.Marko Djuric said that Serbia will not allow the creation of a Greater Albania in its southern province and that it is not alone in opposing the idea, which stems from the times of Nazi occupation of Yugoslavia.When asked whether this inflammatory statement by Albanian ...
READ MORE
Titoslavia: The National Questions and Interrepublican Boundaries
Kosovo: Europe’s “Mafia State”: Hub of the EU-NATO Drug Trail
70 Years of Disinformation: How the CIA Funded Opinion Magazines in Europe
The Operation Barbarossa II File: But Who will Prosecute?
Reviving the ‘Chemical Weapons’ Lie: New US-UK Calls for Regime Change, Military Attack Against Syria
Prelude to World War III
“What About Crimea?” – Latest Narrative From Canada’s Foreign Minister
Afghanistan: It is the Heroin, Stupid
Israel’s Nuclear Arsenal and Weapons of Mass Destruction: A Threat to World Peace
The 1878 San Stefano Treaty and the Albanians
China: Rise, Fall and Re-Emergence as a Global Power
Syrian Rebels Get Arms from Kosovo and Bosnia
Libya: Before and after the Fall of Moamer Gaddafi
On the Origins of Proto-Croats and Proto-Serbs
EXCLUSIVE: Unreleased Documents from Osama Bin Laden’s Archive!
The Myth of Hiroshima
America’s “Humanitarian War” against the World
“Russiagate” is Actually “Israelgate”: Trump as “Agent of Israel”, not of Russia?
Oliver Stone’s American History: “We’re not under Threat. We are the Threat”
Kosovo Serbs ‘Terrified’ by Proposed Creation of a “Greater Albania”

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