Dragnet Injustice Lurks Around Canonisation of Alojzije Stepinac

Blessed Alojzije (Aloysius) Stepinac

According to the words spoken during his “fight against the canonisation of Croatia’s Alojzije Stepinac” visit to Serbia on about 26 July 2017, an Israeli Holocaust expert, Professor Gideon Greif, seems adamant that the people who intend to canonise Croatian WWII Archbishop of Zagreb, Alojzije Stepinac, are “criminals who are mocking the victims of Jasenovac” camp.

Greif, the chief historian of the Israel Institute for Education, Documentation and Research of the Holocaust Shem Olam, told the Belgrade media in an interview that he and Rabbi Avraham Krieger, who heads the institute, came to Belgrade to express their opposition to Croatian attempts to revise history.

When it comes to Cardinal Alojzije Stepinac, I will tell you briefly: his canonisation is a crime in itself, and people who intend to canonise him are criminals mocking the victims. Anyone who has supported a criminal regime like the Ustasha one does not deserve any reward,” said Greif.

The disquieting problem I have with Grief’s (and therefore Serbia’s support and facilitation of such utterly unfounded on truth statements) words is that, when it comes to Stepinac, they provide no documentary proof that would demonstrate Stepinac’s support for any Holocaust activities, let alone Croatia’s WWII regime but evidently try to trick and convince the public that such documents are hidden in the archives and inaccessible.

Gideon Greif
Photo: origo.hu

Well, Greif could have, if he wanted the truth, referred to the extensive archive document (including the documents generated by the Yugoslav state, which falsely indicted Stepinac) research performed by the US based historian dr. Esther Gitman, who also is of Jewish descent. Gitman provided arguments based on documentary evidence against the indictment, which Yugoslav authorities issued against Stepinac immediately after WWII. She refuted allegations in the first count of the indictment regarding the reported collaboration with the Ustasha regime. Gitman is the author of the book “When Courage Prevailed: The Rescue and Survival of Jews in the Independent State of Croatia 1941-1945”.

Esther Gitman

Why bring the WWII Jasenovac camp into the canonisation of Alojzije Stepinac, if not for the reasons of upholding lies as truths? Why not use the opportunity to also say that what has been written about Jasenovac camp (by post-war Yugoslav communists) is the subject of revision given that the truth is far from which we have been served with and implicates the communists into committing crimes at the very site of Jasenovac, victims of which are purposefully hidden among the publicised Holocaust victims?

But, of course, the Serbian Orthodox Church has been very busy in opposing the canonisation of Croatia’s Alojzije Stepinac and, going by the politically charged rhetoric it has taken up, one is sadly not surprised at Greif’s contribution to the process. One is, however, gravely disappointed especially in this era that deserves the truth without it being maliciously branded as historical revisionism.

Since Greif delved into the Holocaust (with which Stepinac had absolutely nothing to do) while on visit to Serbia about Stepinac’s canonisation, why did he omit to say anything about Serbia’s WWII Milan Nedic government facilitating the Nazi to create one of the first Jew-free states in WWII Europe by May 1942, having cleared Serbia of 94% of its Jewish population and the current attempts in Serbia to rehabilitate Nedic?

All this occurring in Serbia against Croatia’s Alojzije Stepinac emanates with the stench of mounting a joint criminal enterprise, without evidence to show, that Stepinac was, according to Serbs and Greif, a part of.

Generally, it’s an accepted fact of criminal law practice that there are three categories of joint enterprise crimes. They are:

1) Where all the accused are joint principals, participating in the committing of a criminal offence.
2) Where an accessory assists or encourages someone else to commit a crime, for example acting as a look-out when criminal act is afoot or providing someone with a weapon with which the crime is committed.
3) Where at least two people cooperate in a crime but then the principal commits a further offence. If one of the accused is deemed to have had foresight of the second crime then under the old rules he or she can be found guilty of both offences. This is known as “parasitic accessory liability”.

It is an irrefutable fact that Stepinac’s actions do not fit into any of these categories of joint enterprise crimes or any other crimes for that matter. So why Greif brings the topic into conversations about Stepinac can be interpreted as attempts to deceive the public and incriminate an innocent person, Stepinac. Once again, just like the Yugoslav communists with their head office in Belgrade, Serbia, had done after WWII.

General Zeljko Glasnovic
Member of Croatian Parliament for the diaspora

Croatian member of parliament, Zeljko Glasnovic, offered a prompt response to the above and associated Greif’s statements while Greif was in Serbia. “History must be founded on documents. We do not need to engage in one-eyed past that was written in 1945. A State that falsifies its past has no future. Amateurs like this gentleman from Israel who has come to Belgrade, need to study their own historical mistakes. No one has the right of giving us lessons about the Second World War,” said Glasnovic.

What lurks from behind Greif’s statements associating Stepinac with Holocaust crimes appears as dragnet injustice, dragnet justice being a coordinated attempt to catch a criminal. But there is no criminality in any deeds Stepinac was ever involved with – hence, Greif with the Serbian Orthodox Church, are attempting to make Stepinac into a criminal for simply being alive in Croatia during WWII and being an Archbishop. How low Serbian politics can stoop in the matter of Stepinac canonisation is beyond anything words can express. Those who know the truth and have seen it via documentary research provided by dr. Esther Gitman, and others, are spared from distress and gut-wrenching pain that lies and innuendos can cause and which arise from Greif’s visit to Serbia. Ina Vukic


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