Croatia: Revisionism As Correction Of Recorded History

This first-ever report rating individual European Union countries on how they face up their Holocaust pasts was published on January 25, 2019 to coincide with UN Holocaust Remembrance Day. Researchers from Yale and Grinnell Colleges travelled throughout Europe to conduct the research. Representatives from the European Union of Progressive Judaism (EUPJ) have endorsed their work.

The fact that this Report omits to present any research on the topic relating to the candidate countries on the path to becoming EU member countries, such as Serbia, is quite a concern. One would expect that Serbia, which was among the first to declare itself “Judenfrei” (Jew-free) in Europe early 1942, would feature in this Report. But expectation for justice for all Holocaust victims in Europe is one thing and reality – another. Sadly.

The Key findings in the Report are as follows:

● Many European Union governments are rehabilitating World War II collaborators and war criminals while minimising their own guilt in the attempted extermination of Jews.

● Revisionism is worst in new Central European members – Poland, Hungary, Croatia and Lithuania.

● But not all Central Europeans are moving in the wrong direction: two exemplary countries living up to their tragic histories are the Czech Republic and Romania. The Romanian model of appointing an independent commission to study the Holocaust should be duplicated.

● West European countries are not free from infection – Italy, in particular, needs to improve.

● In the west, Austria has made a remarkable turn-around while France stands out for its progress in accepting responsibility for the Vichy collaborationist government.

● Instead of protesting revisionist excesses, Israel supports many of the nationalist and revisionist governments.

As the world marks the United Nations Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 27, European governments are rehabilitating World War II collaborators and war criminals while minimising their own guilt in the attempted extermination of Jews.

This Holocaust Remembrance Project finds that Hungary, Poland, Croatia, and the Baltics are the worst offenders. Driven by feelings of victimhood and fears of accepting refugees, and often run by nationalist autocratic governments, these countries have received red cards for revisionism…

Revisionism is often accompanied by a revival of Nazi-inspired hate speech. Hungary’s right-wing Prime Minister Viktor Orban has described the arrival of asylum seekers in Europe as ‘a poison’, saying his country did not want or need ‘a single migrant’. Jaroslaw Kaczyński, head of Poland’s governing Law and Justice Party, has warned that migrants are ‘parasites’ that carry ‘very dangerous diseases long absent from Europe’. In the same vein, French right-wing extremist Marine Le Pen called for the ‘eradication of bacterial immigration’, proclaiming that immigration was causing an ‘alarming presence of contagious diseases’ in France. In his Mein Kampf, Hitler repeatedly refers to Jews as parasites,” 
says the Report.

Comparing today’s politicians’ views regarding mass migration into Europe to Adolf Hitler’s views, as this Report does, is in my view utterly irresponsible and wickedly conniving.

Letting that question alone for now and turning our attention to the term of “historical revisionism” we so frequently find in today’s world, we should all know that history is, in fact, never fixed or objective, but always a living document — one written by those who have or had power, who have access to the telling because the powers that be allow them that access.

Reading between the lines of the text, and the lines of the text, it would seem the authors of this Report fall among traditionalists of this world who believe that history is objective and once anyone seeks to better understand a person or the narratives of the past, those traditionalists shout “revisionism,” as if that new understanding (even new factual finding that contradicts recorded history) is something to be shunned.

Indeed, when it comes to Croatia and its WWII history regarding the numbers of victims of the Holocaust, all attempts at researching the truth, the facts via accessible archival materials, have sadly been branded revisionism. Needless to say, representatives of the Simon Wiesenthal Centres such as Efraim Zuroff, have and still hold the banner for such branding.

That any history written by the elite or powerful ones is objective and apolitical is a naïve but dangerous position; dangerous because it denies all victims justice and due recognition.

Controversy swirls over the wartime role of the Roman Catholic Church. The Archbishop of Zagreb Aloysius Stepinac has been accused of failing to condemn the Ustaša, yet at the same time credited with thousands of Serbs and Jews. The Church beatified him in 1998. Recent research by historians Robin Harris and Esther Gitman Stepinac show Stepinac as anti-Ustaša, a vocal critic of Ustaša racial theories, and a thorn at Pavelic’s side… Much of the issues in the media (in Croatia) revolve around Jasenovac and often reflect problematic revisionist thinking. After film director Jakov Sedlar created a revisionist documentary on Jasenovac in April 4,2016, Croatian state television HRT hosted Sedlar and did not challenge his claims,” says the Report.

Whether the Report omits to mention research on Jasenovac camp deaths of Igor Vukic and Roman Leljak, who use archival documentary evidence that significantly refutes the numbers of victims at WWII Jasenovac camp, on purpose in order to provide yet another lifeline to the unjust term of “revisionism” is a matter for each Report reader’s consideration. Notwithstanding, one cannot remain blind to facts; one can mar them for political gain, though.

One is compelled to conclude that such recent research and findings are labelled in this Report as “extreme sensitivity” rather than pinning the findings of such research as credible and worth pursuing (for historical truth) to the body of this Report. “Extreme sensitivity continues around the numbers of those murdered at the Jasenovac Concentration Camp. Serbs estimate 700,000 victims. More recent and objective findings, however, such as those of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, puts the number between 77,000 and 100,000. The numbers remain unclear and the subject of a genuine detect story. An independent commission, similar to Romania’s Weisel Commission, would help clarify,” says the Report.

Since the Report goes on to give some kind of credibility to what Serbs claim as estimates it is all the more incredulous and tendentious that the Report fails to address those claims further (as being utterly false or unfounded on facts). Indeed, the Report fails to address the Holocaust in WWII Serbia, which saw 94% of Serbia’s Jews exterminated by May 1942 at this time when Serbia is on the path to the EU membership and the authors of this Report obviously consider important for the EU as to which country in Europe is doing what regarding WWII Holocaust.

This kind of reporting or writing perfectly captures the reality of all history.

The great irony of slurring history with “revisionism” is that history as a living document should be a constant act of retelling history in an effort to make the story clearer, more accurate; revisionism is  not an erasing of history but a correction of the wrong presented in “officially” recorded history. A revised view of history allows us to acknowledge what is not debatable  ― many with power over Croatia in the past (Communists and their subscribers), were racists  ― and is essential for helping us resolve what is debatable (and the numbers of the so-called WWII Ustashe victims  have been the subject of painful debates, mere estimates dubbed as facts, and politically-driven intolerance),  whether or not we correct the victim figures, rename buildings/institutions or dismantle monuments.

There’s an old saying that time is the enemy of memory and ignorance is the enemy of knowledge. When the established knowledge based on estimates and other charades that misrepresent the truth are challenged by new findings then ignorance thrives and memories of victims often become banal or fade. It would seem that the usage of the negatively connoted concept of revisionism to characterise fact-finding attempts when it comes to history that includes the Holocaust contributes significantly to the views we come across throughout the world that the world is forgetting the horrors of the Holocaust. One could argue that if attempts to untangle the truth from the lies when it comes to the number of Jews that perished in the Holocaust are labelled as unwelcome revisionism – i.e. denial of the Holocaust – then indeed memory for even the recorded history must suffer; because doubt in the truthfulness of that recorded memory inevitably develops with every new factual finding or every attempt to correct historical records written by those in power.

We can remember those who perished and were murdered without talking about numbers! We can remember the Holocaust human catastrophe and pay respect to those who suffered without trying to embellish it with numbers that are subject to vigorous debates and rows. A human catastrophe is a catastrophe regardless of the number of victims it takes or took with it.

Memory is central to a nation’s historical and moral self-understanding. When unsafe historical records written by Yugoslav communists in the case of Croatia shape memory, then it is the duty of every Croat to ensure that history is corrected, otherwise the nation staggers on false and illusory ground which gives little if any justice to the actual victims of past totalitarian regimes. Ina Vukic

Comments

  1. Man has left many scars on this planet 😦

    Like

  2. I don’t understand, are Gitman and Harris represented here as revisioninsts?! This report has to be made by someone who doesnt know much about the subject nor historiography. One should read linked reply in this page before making such assertions: LINK DELETED

    Like

    • I don’t think so Ava, Harris and Gitman are about facts, researched hard facts regarding Stepinac’s work on saving Jews and others. There are sadly those still who keep churning political tripe and lies, so we hang on for truth to finally surface.

      Like

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