Instead of the usual Sunday after/closest to 22nd April the commemoration of WWII breakout from Jasenovac camp occurred this year on May 4! Reason? Sunday 27 April Croatia’s president just had to, it seems, attend the canonisation in Rome of Pope John Paul II and John XXIII, even though he is no church-goer or believer!
Surviving former inmates, top Croatian officials, foreign ambassadors in Croatia, and many other delegations on Sunday May 4 attended a ceremony commemorating the 69th anniversary of the breakout of inmates from the Ustasha-run Jasenovac camp on 22 April 1945, paying tribute to 83,000 victims of this WWII camp.
Of the 1,073 inmates who were in the camp on 22 April 1945, 600 attempted to escape and only about a hundred survived. The remaining 473 inmates who did not try to escape were killed and their bodies were cremated. The camp Jasenovac was the largest forced-labor and concentration camp set up by the Nazi-style Independent State of Croatia (NDH) in marshland at the confluence of the Sava and Una rivers near the village of Jasenovac in the second half of 1941 and operated until the breakout in 1945.
Addressing last Sunday’s commemoration, President Ivo Josipovic, Parliament Speaker Josip Leko and Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic as well as other speakers sent a message that crimes such as those that had been committed in Jasenovac should never again be allowed to happen.
Josipovic, in his speech, called on everyone to protect the memory of the people who had died in that camp, a place that would remain in collective memory forever.
“Evil should be called by its real name, opposed and denied any opportunity to happen ever again,” he stated.
At this site, crimes, that was genocide, were perpetrated and it would always be painful and we will never forget it, Josipovic said in his speech.
We must sincerely regret at the commission of such horrendous crimes in the name of creating a Croatian state, the president added.
I just wish he would also name and talk about the victims at Jasenovac who perished at the hands of communists in the years post-WWII!
What about the horrendous crimes committed to create the Yugoslav state!?
Those who perpetrated such crimes also did evil to Croatia and the Croatian people, Josipovic said recalling that Jasenovac was the detention centre for those of a “wrong” ethnic background, a “wrong” religion or worldviews.
He warned that in times of social crises such as the current one, there were risks of exclusion, hatred and intolerance and that “germs of fascism and other totalitarian ideologies always remain latently present” – you bet, Mr Josipovic – and you are an ugly germ of communism!
Don’t forget that a dire economic situation can pave the way to fascism. Crimes perpetrated in Jasenovac and other camps throughout Europe remind us of the devastating potential of totalitarianism, Josipovic said adding that everything should be done to prevent recurrence of such crimes,
No need to say, Croatia’s Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic and Speaker of Parliament Josip Leko – all of whom are political pals with Ivo Josipovic when it comes to communism of former Yugoslavia, said essentially the same things albeit in different words.
Prime Minister Milanovic said also that crimes committed during the NDH regime had no justification. Indeed, I agree!
Croatia’s “red” leadership failed, once again, to use this opportunity for setting the records straight on the truth about Jasenovac. They failed miserably at pointing out to the Serbian or pro-Serbian propaganda, which promotes the lie – because such figures pulled out of the sleeves of those who offer no verifiable corroboration or evidence in particular to the number of Serbs that perished in Jasenovac – that ” more than 700,000 Serbs, 23,000 Jews and around 80,000 Roma died in Jasenovac in the period between 1941 and 1945″.
If Ivo Josipovic truly cared about the dignity of victims and justice for the truth and perpetrator then he would lead the way to oust or deny any credibility of this rotten lie about the number of victims perished instead of allowing such propaganda to flourish – unchecked and unchallenged. It is his duty and the duty of the whole Croatian leadership to actively protect Croatia from lies and vilification whether based upon historical or current events!
But telling the truth about Jasenovac and actively trying to stop the lies is something that is politically not of interest to current and former communists and antifascists! If it were not like that then this appalling set of figures in Croatian leadership (communists) would have long ago spoken of the THREE and NOT ONE Jasenovac camp. The three Jasenovac camps existed under different political regimes and they were: 1941-1945 under NDH Ustashe, 1945-1948 and 1948 – 1951 under Yugoslav Communists, which means that among the perpetrators of communist purges other “Yugoslav” nationals were involved as well as Croats.
Why does this set of Croatian leadership still place the victims of all three Jasenovac camps into one Jasenovac camp, into one crime – the one from WWII under Ustashe?
“Such false and malicious manipulation with the number of victims is detrimental to the Croatian people,” said in his recent letter to the Croatian Prime Minister as well as the President Mr Stephen Asic, Secretary of the Croatian World Congress .
“It is time to put a stop to these fabrications that these fabrications,” Asic continues in his letter, “The crimes that were committed cannot and should not be denied and certainly not justified, but also, at the same time, we cannot permit their belittlement through amplification of their number ad nauseum!
This kind of falsification of history is not only an attack against the perpetrators of these crimes but also against the whole of the Croatian nation. The ideological political divisions which once existed among us have no place in today’s democratic Croatia. That is why our positions in defending the Croatian name in the world need to be within a frame of unity. Only with the truth and unified positions will we change the picture the world has of us.”
It will be interesting to see what, if any, response Mr Stephen Asic from Australia (Croatian World Congress) will receive from Croatia’s Prime Minister and President! Indeed, one cannot but agree with what Mr Asic is saying regarding the number of victims being attributed to the regime of WWII Independent Croatia. The same Mr Stephen Asic is part of the advisory body to Croatia’s government on Croats living abroad – i.e. the body that was formed recently with view to increasing or improving the relationship between Croatia and its diaspora.
I am personally not holding my breath waiting for Mr Asic to receive a reply from Croatia’s top government and leadership posts. After all, and judging from their repeatedly twiste rhetoric on WWII and post-WWII the communists and former communists are not likely to own-up to their share of Jasenovac victims between 1945 and 1951any time soon. So it is up to the people, to us, to pursue setting the truth in the right places. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)