Some politically inclined Jews and Serbs in Croatia and outside will understandably keep telling you that Jasenovac camp was a death camp where Croatian WWII Ustashi regime exterminated many thousands of Jews, Serbs, Roma and anti-regime Croats. That has been the official history so far, written by WWII victors and communists of Yugoslavia. The same people will tell you that anyone pointing to and attempting to get justice for the victims of communist crimes at the same place after WWII ended is acting badly, is attempting to relativise the crime of Holocaust, water it down, unacceptably revise history…
On the other hand, a number of historians, witnesses and researchers of post-WWII Jasenovac camp will keep telling you that Jasenovac camp was also a camp of communist purges and exterminations, which was kept open as such until 1951, well beyond the end of WWII in 1945 and well hidden from “world’s eyes” as such, behind the closed borders of Tito’s Yugoslavia for several years after the war had ended.
These historians, witnesses and researchers stand for the truth for all victims but sadly, with politically motivated agendas, are often labeled as neo-fascists, historical revisionists…I have become tired from repeating this sad fact over and over again, but, it must be done if truth and justice are to eventually win the adoration of most.
Most, if not all, major world media outlets will tell you that on Friday 22 April 2016 Croatia has held the official memorial service, sponsored by the Croatian parliament, at WWII Jasenovac death camp for tens of thousands of people murdered by Nazi Germany’s allies. That, officials laid wreaths to victims of the Ustashe regime, which incarcerated Jews, Serbs and others in brutal conditions. That the official memorial service was boycotted by Jewish and Serb groups because, they say, the Croatian government has not acted against use of Ustashe salutes by individual nationalists etc.
However, these leading world media outlets will not tell you that there were, nevertheless, representatives of the Croatian Jewish community at the memorial in Jasenovac on Friday 22 April, e,g. Jewish Community Zagreb, Vladimir Bogdanic and that Branko Lustig, the renowned Hollywood film Director (Schindler’s List), an Auschwitz camp survivor, was there representing the president of Croatia who was abroad at the time of the memorial. These leading media outlets will not tell you that the Roma organisations representatives attended the official memorial of 22 April in numbers. Prime Minister Tihomir Oreskovic led a silent column of officials who laid wreaths at the memorial to the victims on the 71st anniversary of a mass break-out from the camp at the end of the war, among the attendees were a large number of parliamentarians of Croatia and therefore any boycott of this official memorial can only serve as an embarrassment for the boycotters.
More telling of the bias of these main world media outlets is that they will not tell you that for the first time since its existence this year’s memorial at Jasenovac did not mark piety just for the victims of the Holocaust – it marked the victims that are said are there mixed up with Holocsaust victims but are victims of Yugoslav communist crimes. Murdered there, buried there and counted as victims of the Holocaust! So claim historians and researchers. On Friday 22 April 2016, representatives of the Croatian National Platform (HNP) organisation laid a wreath at Jasenovac for the victims of “1941 – 1951” at Jasenovac. This was a bold and courageous move and its consequences, if any, will be interesting to follow. World history records that Jasenovac camp closed in 1945 but this strongly claims it did not!
According to sources, between 1945 and 1951 communist Partisans brought some 50,000 mostly Croatian soldiers POW’s, to Jasenovac, many of whom were murdered there. This truth was forbidden during communist Yugoslav regime and it has only been since 1990’s that serious research has been undertaken on the matter. The HNP representatives bearing the said wreath at Jasenovac on Friday 22 April did not get a warm reception – in a resistance to their wreath they were sent to seek permission from the director of Jasenovac Memorial Centre, Natasa Jovicic, who responded by asking them not to worry about Curator Pejakovic’s attempt to ban the wreath, to just lay the wreath as everyone has the right to lay wreaths for the dead. When her attention was drawn to what was written on the wreath – “For all those that perished here between 1941 and 1951” she shrugged her shoulders and indicated to the direction where wreaths were being laid.
“Jasenovac is a place of great pain and sadness, of remembering and warning,” wrote the eldest Jasenovac Holocaust survivor, Peta Molnar, and emphasised “it must not be a place of hatred!” How potent will these words be for some of the evidently pro-communist Jewish and Serb lobby in Croatia, who had chosen to boycott this year’s official memorial at Jasenovac, is anyone’s guess. Whether they or others will interpret the wreath for the victims of communist crimes at Jasenovac as relativisation of the crime of Holocaust seems no longer important for the truth as, it, the truth of communist crimes is breaking through for us. Restless times on these issues are ahead and no doubt much resistance towards further unraveling of communist crimes. Keeping my ears to the ground on this one – as always, for the victims. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)