Cardinal Aloysius Stepinac saved hundreds of Jews in war-torn Croatia but, amazingly, is still considered a war criminal by many. Sharyn McCowen talks to a Jewish academic who says the world has got it all wrong.
By Sharyn McCowen
14 March, 2014
A Jewish academic is working to clear the name of Blessed Aloysius Stepinac, a Croatian Catholic Church leader convicted of war crimes and collaboration with the enemy during World War II.
For 70 years, Cardinal Stepinac has often been portrayed as a Nazi collaborator who failed to protect Jewish families who sought his protection during the Holocaust.
But Dr Esther Gitman’s research, and subsequent book and documentary, paint a picture of a man who risked his life to protect Jews from certain death. That she is alive to do this work is thanks to the Croatians who helped her mother to flee Sarajevo for Israel. READ ON – THE CATHOLIC WEEKLY ONLINE
AN IMPORTANT NOTE:
“In 1946, prior to Stepinac’s trial, the Communist Party had published a book that contained forged and carefully selected and edited documents designed to make Stepinac and the Catholic Church look bad.
In the 1960s, Italian writer Carlo Falconi sought permission from the Yugoslav authorities to research Croatian archives for a book that he was writing on Pope Pius XII. Party officials eventually handed over some original documents and provided Falconi with a copy of the 1946 book. Neither Falconi nor the others who came after him knew that the evidence had been carefully manufactured to assure that Stepinac appeared to have been a collaborator of the Ustashi (and that Pius appeared sympathetic to the Nazis). He was not given access to any materials or archives that could contradict the communist-manufactured propaganda. Thus, on the basis of forged and carefully selected documents assembled by the Yugoslav secret police, Falconi wrote his book, The Silence of Pius XII” (Ronald J. Rychlak, University of Mississippi School of Law, 2009, Cardinal Stepinac, Pope Pius XII, and the Roman Catholic Church during the second World War)
And so the communist lies about Aloysius Stepinac took a life of their own, portraying him falsely as a symbol of the Holocaust in Croatia, instead of a symbol of the rescue of Jews in Croatia during the times of the Holocaust!
As the communist Yugoslavia authorities had forbidden access to the original documents pertaining to WWII rescue of Jews in Croatia and locked away the multitudes of boxes containing these, Dr Esther Gitman was the first scholar who had been able to research these documents thoroughly after Croatia had seceded from the communist Yugoslavia in the 1990’s and opened up its WWII archives for research.