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!
The Cold War and Its Origins: The Inception of the Soviet Union (1917-1950)
The media is currently in the midst of an anti-Russian hysteria that many have dubbed Cold War 2.0. Of course the first cold war never really ended as the wars in Yugoslavia, Chechnya, and even Afghanistan were aimed at Russia as was the relentless NATO expansion. This manufactured panic is a form of psychological warfare that went into high gear during the Sochi Olympics in 2014 as the US was working to launch a fascist coup in Ukraine. Since most ordinary people would be shocked to discover that Nazis had been installed in power in Ukraine an anti-Russian hysteria was ...
READ MORE
Book Review: NATO War Crimes: “Media Lies and the Conquest of Kosovo”
Media Lies and the Conquest of Kosovo: NATO’s Prototype for the Next Wars of Globalization. Publisher: Unwritten History, Inc., New York, 2007. By Michel Collon, 276 pages, with photographs and maps. “Each war begins with media lies.” This is how Belgian journalist Michel Collon begins his analysis of the Kosovo conflict which resulted in the U.S. and NATO bombardment of Yugoslavia in 1999 and the subsequent occupation of the Serbian Kosovo province by U.S. and NATO troops. The U.S. and NATO had launched a war of aggression without United Nations approval and in violation of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of ...
READ MORE
A Timeline of CIA Atrocities (a list up to 1993)
The following timeline describes just a few of the hundreds of atrocities and crimes committed by the CIA. (1)CIA operations follow the same recurring script. First, American business interests abroad are threatened by a popular or democratically elected leader. The people support their leader because he intends to conduct land reform, strengthen unions, redistribute wealth, nationalize foreign-owned industry, and regulate business to protect workers, consumers and the environment. So, on behalf of American business, and often with their help, the CIA mobilizes the opposition. First it identifies right-wing groups within the country (usually the military), and offers them a deal: ...
READ MORE
Fragility of Belarussian National Identity
Belarus is a land known also as Belorussia (White Russia, Weißrussland) in East Europe which was for centuries occupied by a Polish-Lithuanian common state until it became included in Tsarist Russia in the late 18th century.[1] Belarus is facing many identity problems but the most important is the ethnolinguistic challenge to a separate Belarussian[2] national feature.National identityA common national identity is a focal element for the creation of a national state as without a common identity that is based on a fundamental element of group’s identity a psychological sense of common solidarity cannot be developed. However, such solidarity is a ...
READ MORE
Western Hypocrisy About Airstrike Killings
The chemical poisoning of civilians in Syria has proved a boon and a blessing for the West’s militarists who energetically seek confrontation with Russia — and with China and any other countries that might pop up on their screens of raging aggression.  Nobody doubts for an instant that chemical agents are vile and that anyone using them offensively should be severely punished.  But the pseudo-sympathy of those who profess to be shocked — shocked! — by pictures of dead children, supposedly killed by chemical weapons, is obnoxious. Trump declared “I will tell you that attack on children yesterday had a big ...
READ MORE
Is “Jewish Supremacy” a Form of Racism? The Zionist Exception
Today, we hear a lot about White supremacy but very little about Jewish supremacy, as if the former stands for the latter.It is true there are more similarities than differences between Jewish supremacy and White supremacy. Both are based on ethnic/nationalist bias and racism. They are both“historically based, institutionally perpetuated system[s] of exploitation and oppression … a web of interlocking, reinforcing institutions: economic, military, legal, educational, religious, and cultural. As a system, racism affects every aspect of life in a country.”Within Israel and militarily occupied Palestinian lands, Jewish supremacy is sometimes described as White supremacy, as in this headline:“Israel’s White Supremacy Agenda ...
READ MORE
Serbian Patriarchate of Peć in the Ottoman Empire: The First Phase (1557−1594)
IntroductionThe goals of this article are: 1) to investigate the role of the revived Patriarchate of Peć in Serbian and Balkan history?; and 2) to explore and present the results of investigation of the problems with respect to: a) the role of the Serbian Church during the first decades of the Ottoman occupation of Serbian lands in the process of the creation of a Serbian national identity; b) Serbian-Turkish relations in the second half of the 16th century; and c) the reasons for Serbian disloyalty towards the Ottoman government at the turn of the 17th century.The article addresses the reasons ...
READ MORE
Germany Preparing for War Against Russia?
According to a report issued on June 6th in German Economic News (Deutsche Wirtschafts Nachrichten, or DWN), the German government is preparing to go to war against Russia, and has in draft-form a Bundeswehr report declaring Russia to be an enemy nation. DWN says: “The Russian secret services have apparently thoroughly studied the paper. In advance of the paper’s publication, a harsh note of protest has been sent to Berlin: The head of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Russian State Duma, Alexei Puschkow, has posted the Twitter message: ‘The decision of the German government declaring Russia to be an ...
READ MORE
Athens Massacre of 1944: Britain’s Dirty Secret of Winston Churchill
“I can still see it very clearly, I have not forgotten,” says Títos Patríkios. “The Athens police firing on the crowd from the roof of the parliament in Syntagma Square. The young men and women lying in pools of blood, everyone rushing down the stairs in total shock, total panic.”And then came the defining moment: the recklessness of youth, the passion of belief in a justice burning bright: “I jumped up on the fountain in the middle of the square, the one that is still there, and I began to shout: “Comrades, don’t disperse! Victory will be ours! Don’t leave. ...
READ MORE
US Helping Ukrainian Putschists Wage War on Donbass
Since putschists usurping power in Ukraine launched war without mercy in April 2014 against freedom fighters in Donbass rejecting fascist rule, Washington provided political and military support.Under Obama, National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) funding included hundreds of millions of dollars to Kiev for weapons and other material support, along with training by US special forces.Trump may increase support for escalated aggression. A Pentagon and State Department proposal calls for supplying Javelin missiles, possibly along with anti-aircraft weapons.Claiming these and other US-supplied weapons are only for defense, not offense, ignores where they’ll be deployed – along the contact line, separating armed ...
READ MORE
Who are the Serbs?
Serbs: Basic factsEthnic location: Central and western part of the Balkan Peninsula (South-East Europe)Population: 10.2 million (1.8 million Serbs live outside their ethnic location)Language: SerbianReligion: Eastern Orthodox Christians1 Introduction Serbs belong to the Southslavonic group of Indo-European peoples. As their tradition, culture, language, beliefs, and customs show, the ethnogenesis of Serbs goes far back into the past. Serbian ancestors, Protoslavs and Old Serbs, were described in the 5th century BC by Herodotus, under the names of Neuri and Budini, living north of the Danube in the region between Dniepar and north-eastern Carpathian Mountains.The first mention of the name “Serbs” appears ...
READ MORE
The Colonial Politics Appropriating Mount Rushmore
As colonial monuments are being destroyed in the U.S. and Europe, Mount Rushmore so far remains untouched and a news item since U.S. President Donald Trump visited the site on July 4 to commemorate Independence Day. Fireworks and fighter jets dominated a territorial space that is laden with the memory of colonial violence against the indigenous American Indians.A treaty signed in 1868 between the U.S. government and the Sioux people recognised the Black Hills in South Dakota as exclusive to the indigenous. The agreement was toppled in 1874 when gold was discovered in the Black Hills in a mining expedition ...
READ MORE
The Hidden Structure of U.S. Empire
My father was a doctor in the British Royal Navy, and I grew up traveling by troop-ship between the last outposts of the British Empire – Trincomalee, Gibraltar, Hong Kong, Malta, Aden, Singapore – and living in and around naval dockyards in England and Scotland.The British naval bases where I grew up and the fading empire they supported are now part of history. Chatham Dockyard. a working dockyard for over 400 years, is now a museum and tourist attraction.  Trincomalee Dockyard, where I was born, has been in the news as a site where the Sri Lankan Navy is accused of torturing and ...
READ MORE
British Imperial Project in Ukraine: Violent Coup, Fascist Axioms, Neo-Nazis (2014)
Uncovering the Western mainstream mass-media lies on Ukraine.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
Origins of the American Empire
Russia, Oil and Revolution By the 1870s, John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil Empire had a virtual monopoly over the United States, and even many foreign countries. In 1890, the King of Holland gave his blessing for the creation of an international oil company called Royal Dutch Oil Company, which was mainly founded to refine and sell kerosene from Indonesia, a Dutch colony. Also in 1890, a British company was founded with the intended purpose of shipping oil, the Shell Transport and Trading Company, and it “began transporting Royal Dutch oil from Sumatra to destinations everywhere,” and eventually, “the two companies merged ...
READ MORE
On the Geo-politics of “European Army”
French president Macron’s call for the creation of a “European Army” and the implicit end of NATO alliance reflects the changing global order, the credit for which must, in the first place, go to the US president Trump, who, through his series of actions, has unwittingly done enough damage to the alliance to force the EU to wean away from the so-called western alliance and project itself as an independent player in the international arena. On the one hand, the concept of a “European army” affirms the growing distance between the US and its allies in Europe, and on the ...
READ MORE
President Erdogan, a Menace to the World
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has become a serious danger not only to his own nation, but to many others as well. His actions and statements in recent years should seriously worry his neighbors and the entire world.The last tyrant ignored by the international community was the genocidal butcher Adolf Hitler, who unleashed World War II, invading scores of countries and killing millions of people. Regrettably, Western leaders have tried to appease Erdogan, thereby creating a monster.Strangely, some nations in the Islamic world have treated him respect, while many Western countries consider Turkey as one of their key allies. To ...
READ MORE
Pages Purged by Facebook Were on Blacklist Promoted by Washington Post
Media outlets removed by Facebook on Thursday, in a massive purge of 800 accounts and pages, had previously been targeted in a blacklist of oppositional sites promoted by the Washington Post in November 2016. The organizations censored by Facebook include The Anti-Media, with 2.1 million followers, The Free Thought Project, with 3.1 million followers, and Counter Current News, with 500,000 followers. All three of these groups had been on the blacklist. In November 2016, the Washington Post published a puff-piece on a shadowy and up to then largely unknown organization called PropOrNot, which had compiled a list of organizations it claimed were ...
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
Kosovo Wants to Establish its Own Armed Forces
RT: Kosovo wants to establish an army and has received several Humvee armoured vehicles from the USA. Although there was official NATO restraint, how much is the establishment of a Kosovo Army a fixed development?Marcus Papadopoulos: Kosovo is, effectively, a NATO protectorate today – and has been ever since Belgrade lost control of this Serbian province in 1999. It follows, therefore, that the illegal entity which is the Republic of Kosovo will begin the process of creating its own armed forces so that, in time, Kosovo will gain entry into NATO.RT: The EU has rejected the introduction of Kosovo sanctions ...
READ MORE
The Cold War and Its Origins: The Inception of the Soviet Union (1917-1950)
Book Review: NATO War Crimes: “Media Lies and the Conquest of Kosovo”
A Timeline of CIA Atrocities (a list up to 1993)
Fragility of Belarussian National Identity
Western Hypocrisy About Airstrike Killings
Is “Jewish Supremacy” a Form of Racism? The Zionist Exception
Serbian Patriarchate of Peć in the Ottoman Empire: The First Phase (1557−1594)
Germany Preparing for War Against Russia?
Athens Massacre of 1944: Britain’s Dirty Secret of Winston Churchill
US Helping Ukrainian Putschists Wage War on Donbass
Who are the Serbs?
The Colonial Politics Appropriating Mount Rushmore
The Hidden Structure of U.S. Empire
British Imperial Project in Ukraine: Violent Coup, Fascist Axioms, Neo-Nazis (2014)
Origins of the American Empire
On the Geo-politics of “European Army”
President Erdogan, a Menace to the World
Pages Purged by Facebook Were on Blacklist Promoted by Washington Post
Europe’s “Little Guantanamo”: Why the U.S. Wants Serbia to Give Up Kosovo
Kosovo Wants to Establish its Own Armed Forces
FOLLOW US ON OUR SOCIAL PLATFORMS
Share