For the fourth year in a row, representatives of Croatia’s Jewish and Serbian communities, as well as anti-fascists, will boycott the official commemoration of the victims of the World War II concentration camp at Jasenovac on April 14.
That means there will again be a separate, unofficial and much more well-attended commemoration for more than 83,000 Serbs, Roma, Jews and anti-fascists killed at the camp by the Croatian WWII fascist Ustasa movement, which will be held at the site on April 12.
Representatives of the Roma community, Jasenovac’s second biggest victim group, will again attend both commemorations.
For the fourth year in a row, we have witnessed the government expressing disappointment that the victim groups won’t be present at the official ceremony. Once more, officials have shamelessly expressed sorrow about how Jasenovac is being used to create divisions in society while the government is doing all it can to respect the memory of the dead.
But why did the boycotts start in 2016 – why exactly that year? Did it maybe coincide with the Croatian Democratic Union, HDZ, taking power in Croatia?
Is it maybe because the HDZ government, when it came to power, appointed a culture minister called Zlatko Hasanbegovic who once wrote that the Ustasa were martyrs? Or because Hasanbegovic never came clean about what he said (until weekly news magazine Novosti reported on it)? Or because he never apologised?
Was it maybe the fact that the government tolerated the presence of a plaque with the Ustasa chant ‘Za dom spremni’ (‘Ready for the Home(land)’) engraved on it, within walking distance of the former concentration camp, for nine months? Or because the government had to beg an open admirer of the Ustasa, Marko Skejo, leader of the 1990s veterans of the Croatian Defence Forces, the HOS, to allow the authorities to remove the plaque?
Could one of the reasons for the boycott be that government hid behind an expert council which confirmed that the ‘Za dom spremni’ slogan can be used in commemorations of fallen HOS soldiers? Or is it maybe the funeral for Ustasa soldiers with full military honours near Plitvice lakes in September 2018?
Undoubtedly one of the reasons for the continuing boycott could be the fact that the government gave 6,700 euros to the Society for Research of the Threefold Jasenovac Camp, an NGO that distorts the facts about Jasenovac, claiming, without academic basis, that up to 50 times fewer people died there than the Jasenovac Memorial Site has established.
But it could also be because 2,700 euros was given to the Association of Police Veterans from the 1990s war – who have somehow become WWII experts as well – to unscientifically claim that an Ustasa detention camp for children in the town of Jastrebarsko wasn’t a camp at all.
One of the more recent triggers for keeping up the boycott could be the fact that Andrej Rora, the head of HDZ’s media and communications office, wrote for the same pro-Ustasa bulletin as Hasanbegovic, declaring in 1996 that the struggle for the Ustasa-led Independent State of Croatia, NDH, will continue.
The crocodile tears of Croatian President Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic, a former HDZ member, have also started flowing a few years too late.
Grabar Kitarovic now claims that she would attend the official Jasenovac commemoration if there were no divisions. But what prevented her from attending it in 2015, when she avoided the official commemoration but arrived at the site for a publicly-unannounced personal visit, then publicly posted photos and a message about it?
Certainly, descendants of Jasenovac victims didn’t like the fact that she first said that ‘Za dom spremni’ was “an old Croatian salute” before admitting it was a fascist chant.
This is the problem that the HDZ has been facing from the beginning – trying to have its cake and eat it too. The party has been trying to claim that it is anti-fascist – especially in dealings with Israel – while simultaneously trying to rehabilitate the Ustasa.
This is precisely what the founder and Croatian President Franjo Tudjman had in mind back in the 1980s, when he started to promote his controversial version of ‘national reconciliation’ between the Ustasa and the Communist Partisans.
On the one hand, Tudjman claimed – citing problematic sources – that Jews ran the camp, and that Jasenovac continued to operate after WWII, under Communist rule, for which there is no valid historical proof.
While trying to combat Serbian nationalist propaganda that inflated Jasenovac’s death toll, he lowered it to 40,000. To achieve his ‘reconciliation’, he proposed burying the remains of both Ustasa and camp victims at Jasenovac, only to back down under heavy international pressure.
On the other hand, Tudjman accused the Croatian Defence Forces of Ustasa sympathies and wrote anti-fascism into the constitution.
The HDZ is going in Tudjman’s direction, no matter how much it denies this reality. What’s worse, it’s not only the HDZ’s attitude that the Jasenovac victims’ descendants should be angry about.
Former Croatian President Stjepan Mesic, who is now honorary president of the League of Anti-fascist Fighters and Anti-Fascists of Croatia, is widely known for downplaying the Jasenovac crimes while he was casually eating and drinking with HDZ members in Novska in 1992. This wasn’t the only time that Mesic made unacceptable comments about the Ustasa, but it was also problematic that he never came clean about the Novska incident before videos popped up in the media.
Meanwhile in 2001, Tonino Picula, who at the time was the Croatian foreign minister from the then-ruling Social Democratic Party, SDP, ventured into dubious territory when he wanted to make the point that Croatia and Serbia shouldn’t dig up the past too much.
Picula said that Croatia could ask “what preceded Jasenovac”, probably trying to suggest that the pre-war Kingdom of Yugoslavia’s repression was responsible for the WWII killings of Serbs – a common trope among the far-right. Just a few months before, while visiting the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem, he didn’t make a similar analogy about Jewish victims.
Then in 2016, when SDP president Zoran Milanovic was talking with 1990s war veterans, he said that he personally didn’t care about the ‘Za dom spremni’ chant.
It was also an SDP politician, State Administration Minister Arsen Bauk, who allowed the obscure Society for Research of the Threefold Jasenovac Camp to be registered as an NGO. Bauk and the 2000-2003 SDP government was further responsible for not pressuring HOS veterans’ associations to remove the words ‘Za dom spremni’ from their coat of arms.
The point is that the majority of politicians honestly don’t care – even when they point out Ustasa crimes. Jasenovac is seen as the place where the ethnic ‘Other’ were killed, not ‘Us’, the Croats.
Although a massive proportion of the Serbs, Roma and Jews who were killed at the camp were living in territories that are now part of Croatia, they are still symbolically seen as ‘guests’.
Even when Jasenovac is commemorated by officials, it’s done out of obligation; a concession to ‘them’. This is something that is done to score political points, both domestically and internationally.
Until Jasenovac is commemorated sincerely and in good faith, without tricks or excuses, no one, not least the government and the political elite, should complain that there are multiple commemorations of the victims every year.
Originally published on 2019-04-11
About the author: Sven Milekic is a Ph.D. candidate at Maynooth University, funded by the Irish Research Council under the Government of Ireland Postgraduate Programme.
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.
After 19 years since a part of the international community, under the auspices of NATO and the US, took control over the Serbian province of Kosovo and Metohija, following two ethnic pogroms of the Serbs and non-Albanians occurred in 1999 and in 2004, which resulted in ethnic cleansing of around 250 000 Serbs and other non Albanians, the rest of Serbian population still survive in ghettos across the territory of self-proclaimed independent Republic of Kosovo.Destroyed 14th-century Serbian Orthodox church Samodreža in Kosovo by Muslim Albanians in March 2004 The Self proclaimed Republic of Kosovo, as a creation of the USA/NATO joint ...
The series of long-scale Christian national movements in the Balkans, triggered off by 1804 Serbian revolution, decided more than in the earlier centuries, the fate of Serbs and made ethnic Albanians (about 70% of whom were Muslims) the main guardians of Turkish order in the European provinces of Ottoman Empire. At a time when the Eastern question was again being raised, particularly in the final quarter of 19th and the first decade of 20th century, Islamic Albanians were the chief instrument of Turkey’s policy in crushing the liberation movements of other Balkan states. After the congress of Berlin (1878) an ...
Yom HaShoah/Holocaust Remembrance Day: A state-sponsored institution in Vilnius rewrites history to the delight of Europe’s new ultranationalists
This past winter here in Vilnius, the charming capital of Lithuania, was much like any other. During long solid weeks of subzero temperatures, as the flow of tourists and roots-seekers slowed to a trickle, I adjusted the route of my daily walk to pass by up to a dozen top tourist sights. Day after day, there was one constant: The most popular, winter-defying “must-visit” for foreigners is “The Museum of Genocide Victims.” Perhaps there is something grotesquely sexy about “genocide.” Maybe the promise ...
Accused of War Crimes: The British Prime Minister Tony Blair
WAR CRIMES CHARGES FOR THE HAGUE AGAINST THE NATO LEADERS – ONE OF THE INDICTMENTS IN THE INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL TRIBUNAL FOR THE FORMER YUGOSLAVIA
NOTICE OF THE EXISTENCE OF INFORMATION CONCERNING SERIOUS VIOLATIONS OF INTERNATIONAL HUMANITARIAN LAW WITHIN THE JURISDICTION OF THE TRIBUNAL;
REQUEST THAT THE PROSECUTOR INVESTIGATE NAMED INDIVIDUALS FOR VIOLATIONS OF INTERNATIONAL HUMANITARIAN LAW AND PREPARE INDICTMENTS AGAINST THEM PURSUANT TO ARTICLES 18.1 AND 18.4 OF THE TRIBUNAL STATUTE.
Madam Justice Louise Arbour, Prosecutor, International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, Churchillplein 1, 2501 EW, The Hague, Netherlands.
President William J. ...
A „rövid” XX. századot a balkáni lôporos hordó robbanása vezette be, és úgy látszik, addig nem is tud befejezôdni, amíg ezt a hordót jó mélyen és örökre el nem temetik. A koszovói konfliktus új fázisa – ha nem akarunk éppenséggel visszamenni az ôsidôkig, de legalábbis a rigómezei ütközetig (1389) vagy Arsenije Carnojevic és népe nagy elvándorlásáig (1698 – a tartomány szerb lakosága ekkor menekült el a török megtorlás elôl, és ekkor kezdôdött dél felôl az albánok tömeges betelepedése a lényegében lakatlanná vált területre) – nagyjából az elsô balkáni háborúval kezdôdött, és kisebb-nagyobb megszakításokkal tart ma is. A tartomány szerencsétlen helyen ...
Selim Demolli gripped the table with his hands, and his lip trembled with anger as he spoke.
The previous day he had talked to an imam about his son, who was killed three years ago in Syria. He asked the imam for a religious explanation about what happens to a dead person whose parents have not forgiven him. The answer was hard to take.
“He is not a shahid [martyr]. Those who did not get a blessing from their father cannot rest in peace. The imam even told me so. They are called ‘cursed’,” Demolli said.
Demolli’s son Burim was killed in October ...
Many innocent civilians were killed in American military interventions around the world – from Vietnam and Serbia to Iran and Afghanistan, because of the alleged “errors” or “collateral damage” – without consequences for civil and military leadership. In addition to political, military and every other power, Americans secured itself with legal mechanisms.
Twenty-two civilians, wounded and doctors, among them three children, were killed in the American bombing of a hospital in the Afghan city of Kunduz. Americans acknowledged the error and apologized. The President of the United States expressed his condolences, the military leadership announced three independent investigations. “Doctors without borders” ...
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 the Native Hawaiian people (who call themselves the Kanaka Maoli) to near genocidal conditions. Additionally, McKinley’s military and colonial expansion into the Pacific ...
“The main reason for that was not because of warfare or systematic killing, it’s because …diseases, …did not have any immunities, so they perished in large numbers.”
The above statement, if said in reference to the slaughter of Jews in concentration camps by Nazis, would be illegal in most European countries. Individuals like David Irving, who have claimed that “disease” not homicidal gas chambers, killed the victims of Auschwitz and other concentration camps, have been fined and imprisoned. Claiming pure intentions on the part of the Nazis, revising the statistics on their atrocities, and purporting that those who say otherwise have ...
Dechani monastery in Metochia - one of the most important shrines of Serbian Orthodox Church (14th century)
The region of Kosovo & Metohija was a political center of mediaeval Serbia and makes the very essence of Serbian spiritual and cultural identity and statehood since the Middle Ages up today. The biggest and the most important number of Serbian Orthodox mediaeval monasteries and churches (for instance, Gračanica, Pećka Patrijaršija, Bogorodica Ljeviška and Visoki Dečani) are built exactly in Kosovo & Metohija and the headquarters of the Serbian Orthodox Church – Patriarchate established in 1346 was located (till 1766) in the city of ...
What do you think of when you hear the name Colonel Gaddafi? Tyrant? Dictator? Terrorist? Well, a national citizen of Libya may disagree but we want you to decide.
For 41 years until his demise in October 2011, Muammar Gaddafi did some truly amazing things for his country and repeatedly tried to unite and empower the whole of Africa.
So despite what you’ve heard on the radio, seen in the media or on the TV, Gaddafi did some powerful things that are not characteristic of a “vicious dictator” as portrayed by the western media.
Here are ten things Gaddafi did for Libya that you may not know about…
1. In Libya a home is ...
Barack Obama was the only U.S. President who at the United Nations defended nazism — racist fascism — and Holocaust-denial. It received almost no reporting by the press at the time (or subsequently). But his successor President Donald Trump could end up being removed from office because he said that racist fascists are just the same as are people who demonstrate publicly against them. Trump’s politically stupid (not to say callous) remark became viral, and apparently the press (which had ignored Obama’s defense of nazism at the U.N.) just won’t let go of Trump’s statement unless and until he becomes ...
“I hate the gooks,” Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) doubled down when asked on the 2000 presidential campaign trail about his continued use of the racist slur for Vietnamese people. “I will hate them as long as I live.”
In the mind of the settler-colonialist, the white invader is always the victim and the people he invades, occupies, expels or exterminates are always the aggressors, going all the way back to the Native American genocide. McCain was never able to understand that in Vietnam, as in just about everywhere else they went, Americans were the invaders, not the victims. Even as McCain ...
The current Ukrainian crisis and in fact civil war which stared at the very end of 2013 are grounded in for decades lasting internal interethnic antagonisms primarily on the Ukrainian-Russian relations including above all the “Crimean Question” as an apple of discord from 1954 between Ukraine and Russia. The crisis came from Lithuania’s capital Vilnius were in November 2013 an Association Agreement between the EU and Ukraine had to be signed. Lithuania at that time (July 1st−December 31st, 2013) presided the European (Union) Council and formally had a full political responsibility for the breaking out of the crisis as being ...
LONDON — Seventy years after he was shot by the Soviets, the reputation of Jonas Noreika goes on trial in Lithuania next week.Noreika — a hero to many in the Baltic state for resisting the Communists’ subjugation of their country — stands accused of being a Nazi collaborator who was complicit in the Holocaust.Jonas Noreika - "General Storm"The case before the Vilnius Regional Administrative Court charges the state-funded Genocide and Resistance Research Center of Lithuania with intentionally distorting the role of Noreika in the murder of Jews.It has been brought by Grant Gochin, a Lithuanian citizen living in the US, ...
Kosovo Albanian Muslims and their unthinking and duped supporters in the US are denying the Holocaust when they claim that Albanians rescued 100% of the Jews in Kosovo and in Albania. Albanian Muslims are Holocaust deniers like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, yet Albanians are not ostracized. Why? Why are Albanian Muslims and their lackeys and stooges in the US allowed to get away with denying the Holocaust, with falsifying their role in the destruction of European Jews?
The ignorance of the Albanian lobby is appalling. Albanian Muslims played a role in the Holocaust. Who claims this?
Raul Hilberg, the founder of Holocaust studies and ...
“Now that the global circumstances have changed, and when the United States and NATO are losing their influence, and while the powers that are in favor of preserving Kosovo and Metohija – such as Russia and China – are strengthening, we are nevertheless pursuing a policy of complete surrender.”
The aim of the internal dialogue conducted by the Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, should be to distribute responsibilities and to be the cover for the final surrender of Kosovo and Metohija.
The government constantly assures us that it will never recognize Kosovo as an independent State, but here we must point out the ...
Interactive maps at several websites show that within three months there have been more than 500 voluntary transfers of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church – Moscow Patriarchate's (UOC-MP) parishes to the Orthodox Church of Ukraine recently created by Patriarch Bartholomew and president Poroshenko. The UOC-MP parishes total 12,000, so this is a significant value. However, according to the OHCHR Report on the human rights situation in Ukraine from 16 November 2018 to 15 February 2019, not all of these transfers were voluntary – in some cases they were undertaken by local authorities or far-right organizations, and those members of the UOC-MP ...
When it comes to ‘apologising’ for genocides, which it either directly instigated or facilitated through tactical support, the Vatican is a conjurer adept in sleight of words and institutions. You are made to believe that the Vatican has changed; that the Vatican has apologised but then you go through what has been actually said officially and by whom, and you realise that nothing has changed.
Take for example the absolutely safe sounding name for one of the oldest congregations in the Vatican — ‘Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’. That is the modern name. The original name? ‘Supreme Sacred Congregation ...
Fourteen years ago the U.S. Government de-classified the now famous “La Vista Report” of May 15, 1947, a top-secret U.S. Army Intelligence report documenting the Vatican’s role in aiding the escape of numerous high-ranking Nazi war criminals, among them Ante Pavelic, fascist leader of wartime Croatia; Franz Stangel, Commander of Treblinka; Eduard Roschmann, “the Butcher of Riga”; Klaus Barbie, “the Butcher of Lyon”; SS General Walter Rauff, inventor of the mobile gas truck; Adolf Eichmann, “architect of the Holocaust”; and tens of thousands of others. Writing about the document prior to its release, internationally renowned Nazi hunter Charles R. Allen ...
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