Croatia: The Real Jasenovac

The need to resist falsifications of history in historical science of former Yugoslavia should and must be recognised by the Croatian government as a national problem and priority. The Croatian governments since year 2000 have failed consistently and, evidently purposefully, to recognise publicly and in their national strategy the need for corrective measures that would address historical misinformation and falsified Croatian history from World War Two. This need for corrective measures arose and persists given that falsifications have cruelly blackened the reputation of Croatian people worldwide and people and communities suffer because of that. It is a widely accepted fact that misinformation occurs when people hold incorrect factual beliefs and do so confidently. The problem, first conceptualised by the American political scientist James H. Kuklinski and colleagues in 2000, plagues political systems and is exceedingly difficult to correct. Over time, scholars have elaborated on the psychological origins of political misinformation and although there is an extensive body of research on how to correct misinformation, this literature is less coherent in its recommendations but, overall, scholarly research on political misinformation illustrates the many challenges inherent in representative democracy. And Croatia is no exception – relatively too many members of parliament are either former communists of Yugoslavia or their children who all, one may safely assume, either participated in falsification of Croatian WWII history or supported the falsifications.

It is regrettable that the Croatian government has not supported, nor does it support those whose research has taken them and takes them to uncovering the historical truth and correcting the misinformation sowed by Yugoslav communists and their supporters for decades throughout the world, often making the life of Croatian expats living in the diaspora a nightmare fuelled by lies, defamation and degradation spilling down from the communist agenda that relied on misinformation for its survival.  Whether, therefore, Croatian powers that be hold that lying is a virtue, just as communists did, is a question that may not be difficult to answer even though the answer shocks every decent and truth-loving human being. The fact that no Croatian government since year 2000 has in any shape or form supported the research undertaken to uncover the terribly defiled truth of WWII Jasenovac camp, such as the most credible research including the ones carried out and completed by Stipo Pilic and Blanka Matkovic or Igor Vukic … speaks volumes of how very profoundly the Croatian governments have been and are saturated with communist ideology, mental set and cover-up of communist crimes including those perpetrated at Jasenovac camp post WWII by communist Yugoslavia. Perhaps a future government, different from the Croatian Democratic Union/HDZ or Social Democratic Party/SDP ones Croatia has had so far will have the courage to assist the passage of historical truth to the surface. 

When people firmly hold beliefs that happen to be wrong, as is the case due to falsified history of WWII Croatia making it about victims of the Ustashi regime, grotesquely inflating the numbers of people that perished, instead of making it about the fight for freedom from oppressive and dictatorial, harsh Serb-led Kingdom of Yugoslavia,  efforts to correct the misinformation will be and is met with resistance and this resistance is frequently labelled as “revisionism” in the negative sense even though revisionism is a positive concept as it seeks to correct the wrongs. The truth will out though, eventually, thanks to dedicated historians some of whom I have mentioned above. The myth and lies about Jasenovac will fall one day under the overwhelming weight of truth.

The latest addition to the above-mentioned research and pursuits of truth about WWII Jasenovac is a new book titled “The real Jasenovac” (Stvarni Jasenovac), written by Tomislav Vukovic, with the subtitle “documents and discussions”. The book brings more than 150 documents, photos, and facsimiles, many of them for the first time in public! The book was published by the Society for the Research of the Triple Jasenovac Camp, and it strongly adds to the increasing body of scientific and truth research works on the World War Two (WWII) concentration camp in Jasenovac, Croatia, aiming to correct the misinformation about the camp (and WWII Croatia) served to the world by Yugoslav communists and their friends.

From the back cover of the book we find that “the documents, photographs and reprints presented in this book show the real Jasenovac as opposed to the ideologised and exaggerated depiction of the camp as it prevailed in the period of communist socialist Yugoslavia. Such a distorted view has survived in some circles to this day in the independent Republic of Croatia. The author of the book is Tomislav Vukovic, a long-time journalist and the editor of the Zagreb Voice of the Council and a contributor to a number of other Croatian public media did what every historian dealing with this topic should do: he went to the Croatian State Archives and looked for documents about Jasenovac that were discussed in public. He found them, read them and photographed. On this basis, a newspaper feature in Glas Koncila was created, which was also the basis for this book. In addition to the documents, there are also a number of reviews and polemics with the advocates of the falsified and mythologised depiction of the camp in Jasenovac. The book is therefore a valuable contribution to the discussion of history the camp and the effort to present it in a realistic form…”

The book ‘Real Jasenovac’, authored by Tomislav Vukovic, is a continuation of Igor Vukic’s contribution to the elucidation of the ‘Jasenovac myth’. What particularly impresses is that the book was printed with financial assistance not from the Government or government agency but from the Canadian-based Croatian expat benefactor Dr. Ivan Hrvoic.

The book is full of valuable documents, photographs and sources of literature that can be checked and independently verified. The author of the book is well acquainted with the subject he is writing about, so the book is worth reading.

“WWII Independent State of Croatia/NDH and Jasenovac mythology”, which the world has been faced with for decades since WWII, are based on the fictional and malicious stories of how Croatia’s Cardinal Alojzije Stepinac personally slaughtered Serbian children in Jasenovac. Or that every fourth victim of ‘Jasenovac’ was a child, or that the Ustashas competed with each other who would kill more internees during the day, and many other ‘hunting stories’ designed and concocted to hide communist crimes.

Reading Vukovic’s book (based on documents) one learns that the Ustashas were not as the ‘anti-fascist’ (communist) literature describes them, and that the camps in ‘Jasenovac’ were treated better than in camps on other continents. Packages regularly arrived at the camp, work was done, crafts were studied, cultural events and sports competitions were held, etc.

Certainly, life in the camp was not a personal choice, and everyone who survived the camp or lost someone in it is rightfully outraged. But due to historical untruths, outright lies and fabrications, it is essential to rise above the personal level and look at the picture in a wider context.

In line of this Dr Ivica Tijardovic, Croatian scientist and publicist, put forth into the public domain recently that there are several questions that need to be answered when writing about or discussing the WWII Jasenovac camp.

First question: How many lives did “Jasenovac” save? In other words, those survivors would not have been so lucky in any other place.

Second question: How many criminals and how many political prisoners were imprisoned in the camp? It is known that many lawbreakers were taken to ‘Jasenovac’ to serve out their prison sentences.

Third question: How many inmates were released after serving their sentence or after being pardoned? The figures in this context from Vukovic’s book are astonishing.

Fourth question: How many inmates went to work in Germany or in real concentration camps somewhere in the north of Europe? It is also an interesting question worth investigating.

Fifth question: How many camp inmates were killed by the Ustasha, and how many by the partisans, i.e., ‘anti-fascists’ (Yugoslav communists)? Given that the Jasenovac camp, as we know it, remained operational after the arrival of the partisans in 1945; more research on this topic is more than welcome. Namely, in the territory of the former Yugoslavia, there were about eighty concentration camps with about 200 thousand internees a few years after the end of the Second World War.

Sixth question: Why was Croatian WWII history falsified, and there is still an unsuccessful attempt to hide the truth with which a growing number of people from Croatia and the world are becoming more and more familiar?

The only unequivocal answer to that question is the following. Given that the crimes against Croats after the end of the Second World War were so monstrous, with the ‘myth of Jasenovac’, thanks to the communist dictatorship, terrible atrocity in the long history of Croats was successfully hidden. The truth will out with all thanks to the several historians who pursue research, often at personal peril and cost, with view to present the truth of WWII Croatia history to the world and the financial and moral support they receive from the Croatian diaspora. Ina Vukic

Comments

  1. Very beautifully carved out history of Croatia . You have rightly written that lying is a virtue . And a step forward I would like to say that the Lies have been used as a weapon by some one , incuding Communist , to write history of Croatia which , I fee , l is a crime against humanity as such . Thanks !

    • There is so much to be corrected from WWII Croatian history that was written by communists and their friends from the Allied corps across the world, who, themselves live in nations or regimes responsible for atrocities of enormous magnitudes whether in peace or colonisation grabs

  2. As I told you that the lies/misinterpretation have been used as tools to write history the world over including Croatia . Today what we need is an objective history . Every history is a contemporary history . And it should be interpreted accordingly as per the need and feelings of the people with true interpretation of their culture and civilization . Material history is a layman’s approach to understanding history . History has many subtle aspects which must be written in view of true historical perspectives including cultural aspects of the people of the country of which that history is written . Thanks !

    • Of course but body counts of mass murders must be excluded from any interpretation or cultural backgrounds, they cannot be made up and consider as historical truth

  3. It is amazing how few people care about communist atrocities and keep trying to smear Croatia over what happened in WWII. It’s not like Croats picked Pavelic to run the country in WWII. That government was installed by Hitler and met with plenty of resistance.

    By the way, I recently read Marcus Tanner’s Croatia: A Nation Forged in War. Is that a good history of Croatia or are there better ones in English? I noticed that he devoted 110 pages to history from the 8th century to the 19th century and 200 pages on the 20th century, which seems kind of lopsided.

    • True medieval otaku but regretfully when political appetites take precedent the history is falsified to suit. Marcus Tanner’s book is good, glad to know you have read it.

      • Good to know and sharing your critique of the book, thank you! 🙂
        I read and own the 3rd edition in paperback of that book. There’s a 4th edition available, copyright 2019.
        Also, I have “A Traveller’s History of Croatia” by Benjamin Curtis, copyright 2014. The 3rd edition has a 2020 copyright date.
        Finding books in English about Croatia here in the US is a treasure hunting expedition!

      • I think more and more are being translated into English or written in English, which is great. Thanks

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