The Vomit Principle in Serbia’s Political Spin

 

The “Vomit Principle” in modern marketing trends hasn’t eluded Serbia’s politicians. The vomit principle is a political tactic that wilfully disgusts people in order to grab their attention. When it comes to Serbia’s denial of its horrendous crimes in its pursuits of a Greater Serbia, stretching into Croatian territory and the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1990’s, then it has almost perfected the “art” of the “Vomit Principle”.  Serbia’s politicians, whether in Serbia (for example Aleksandar Vucic, Ana Brnabic, Ivica Dacic) or in Croatia (for example Milorad Pupovac, Boris Milosevic) or in Bosnia and Herzegovina (for example Milorad Dodik) are sticking to their marketing message, sprouting their their passively-aggressive slogans and genocide denials ad nauseam. You’d think they’d get sick of saying the same thing at every turn. And if by any chance, you are asking why I’m putting Serbs from Serbia, Serbs from Croatia and Serbs from Bosnia and Herzegovina in the same cauldron here it’s because both Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina had ethnic Serbs living there who emerged as rebel Serbs (rebelling against the states’ secession from communist Yugoslavia), mounted terror against non-Serbs in those two countries, and were joined in that fight by Serbia with its deadly viciousness. If Croatia’s minority government had the courage and prudence to side with the Croatian Serbs that fought with Croatians against Serb aggression (and there was a significant number of them) we would surely now be looking at a different political scenario, perhaps even at a good progress in reconciliation. But it didn’t and it doesn’t! It sides with Croatian rebel Serb camp that promotes Serbia’s politics in Croatia.

No matter how many times they repeat their spin based on fabrications, there will always be someone who has missed it.  So, repetition is essential to the point of making people feel sick. This is the “Vomit Principle” and it shows particularly at that time when you realise that the spin, the message, the slogan, has been said so many times that you feel that if you hear it or say it once more you are just going to throw up and that is the point at which people hear it. In other words, all marketing that achieves intended results relies on a message which resonates, repeated often enough until it penetrates the minds of your intended audience and gets them to take whatever action you want.

And Serbia wants the world to forget that its aggression against Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina ever occurred! That the genocide, the ethnic cleansing, the mass rapes, the torture, the sheer wanton destruction it committed during 1990’s did not occur and if it did occur then it was justified to pursue such course of action because Serbs say in deceit that Croatia, for example, engaged in genocide during World War II. I will not go deeply here into the fact that WWII history regarding Croatia when it comes to, say, Jasenovac camp and the numbers of people who perished there, was largely fraudulently written by Serbs and other communists and, judging by relatively recent research into WWII, it does not represent the true picture, or actual facts. I will not go deeply here into the fact that, for example, Serbia (its leaders of the 1990’s aggression) were convicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in the Hague of genocide in Croatia, and Croatia was not.

Serbian president Aleksandar Vucic took part in a commemoration ceremony Tuesday, 4 August 2020 in Sremska Raca near the borders with Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. The ceremony marked the day when, in 1995, the Croatian military’s Operation Storm, which marked the end of the war for Croatia’s independence from communist Yugoslavia and was organised by official Serbia in remembrance of the Serbian victims and refugees.

We will not celebrate the tragedy of the Serbian people, the killing of Serb civilians, the killing of the Serb children. We will not be humiliated,” Vucic said at the commemoration in Sremska Raca. “Reconciliation, yes. Humiliation — no,” said Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic!

Knowing the fact that there are no known civilian victims during Croatia’s Operation Storm on 4th and 5th August 1995 and that the exodus of some 200,000 of Serbs from Croatia at the time was actually an ordered evacuation that was directed by Serbia itself puts a bitter taste and outrage to these words uttered by Vucic, yet another of many times!

Then, at around the same time, Serbia’s Prime Minister Ana Brnabic, regurgitated Vucic’s vomit against Croatia.  “We want reconciliation, peace, we do not ask you to apologise, admit the genocide in Jasenovac, but we want you to let us mourn that day or those days. We want reconciliation, but not humiliation, which we will not agree to.”

Serbia continues pressuring Croatia to admit to genocide it did not perpetrate in WWII against Serbs in order to continue denying the genocide it, itself, perpetrated in 1990’s in both Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina! The gut-wrenching thing in all this is that pro-communist Yugoslavia political/government leadership of Croatia does nothing to alert the world not to succumb to the nausea infecting the world from Serbia. Even, if that leadership or government of Croatia is in coalition with the Serb activists in Croatia in order to sustain its minority government, it has no right to keep silent in the face of continued barrage of lies and denials of the 1990’s murderous aggression coming from Serbia!

Whether Serbia’s usage of the “Vomit Principle” strategy in its politics to wash away its 1990’s mortal sins against the Croatian people, as if they were never willfully committed, will force Croatian current leadership to further compromise the absolute need of Croatia to defend itself from the murderous Serb aggression is yet to be seen. According to some media sources Serbia’s Prime Minister Ana Barnabic has even during the past week “told” Croatia to stop using the term “Serbo-Chetnik aggression” when it comes to Croatia’s Homeland War! Will Serbia’s use of the “Vomit Principle” force a reconciliation founded on the cruel equalisation of the victim with the aggressor? It’s certainly heading that way it seems and it spells no blissful future that depends on truth; it spells a long painful future of unrest among the Croatian people, for certain.

Let’s take a look at what is evidently standing behind Serbia’s leadership’s words – behind what Vucic and Brnabic are saying. In terms of psychology Vucic’s and Brnabic’s, indeed of all Serbia’s leading politicians of decades past, telling lies and pointing fingers at others especially for unrelated acts (for example WWII) has evidently become a way not to admit that which makes them feel ashamed and they do not want to be judged for crimes Serbia has perpetrated. Serbia should be ashamed of its aggression against Croatian people who wanted out of communist Yugoslavia, which, by the way, Serbs controlled to a large extent. Then, of course, the relatively recent trends in historical research into facts of WWII Croatia have revealed several crucial facts regarding WWII Jasenovac and regarding Blessed Alojzije Stepinac that cause anxiety and panic among Serbs who had participated in writing the history of WWII Croatia, based on lies and cruel fabrications. There is the extensive research by American dr Esther Gitman on the rescue and survival of Jews in WWII Croatia which point to the fact that there were Croats, including Blessed Alojzije Stepinac, who made it their task to rescue Jews and others, but still, after WWII Serbs led the persecution against Blessed Alojzije Stepinac with trumped-up charges of Nazi collaboration. Then, British dr Robin Harris published also a biography of Blessed Alojzije Stepinac, based on similar facts. But, wouldn’t you know it (!), Serbia has recently placed Israeli historian Gideon Greif on its payroll and Serbia’s lies get new reinforcement.

Historical archives being open after Croatia seceded from communist Yugoslavia in the 1990’s has enabled historians to delve into researching the history of Jasenovac camp. The results that are emerging from this research give a significantly different picture of WWII Jasenovac. This picture based on discovered documentation is definitely set to throw the false picture Serbs and their allies painted into garbage; onto the heap of human misery and deceit. Serbs and their allies have already maliciously dubbed this research as “Holocaust denial” and “Historical Revisionism”! Some notable researchers into WWII Jasenovac camp have been Blanka M. Matkovic, Igor Vukic, Vladimir Horvat and Stipo Pilic, to name just a few. They all point one to the fact that the myth about WWII Jasenovac camp was a cruel myth devised to prop-up the oppressive communist Yugoslavia regime and the Serb determination to cover up their own terrible participation in the WWII extermination of Jews and their hatred for any kind of independent Croatia.

And so, it has surfaced relatively recently that the myth of Croatian genocide against Serbs in WWII is based on lies and fabrication – and this feeds Serbia’s “Vomit Principle” with ammunition made up of lies. Associated with this principle are Croatian Serbs’, who were directly or sideways associated with the rebel Serb faction in 1990’s Croatia (Such as Milorad Pupovac and Boris Milosevic), constant attempts to characterise the “For Homeland Ready” (Za Dom Spremni) Croatian salute, used for centuries as a mark of patriotic love, as a salute that promotes a genocidal character of Croatian fight for independence! Serb aggression and the need for Croats to preserve their lives amidst the brutal aggression means nothing in their warped minds. They lived in Croatia as the 19990’s war of aggression arose, they live in Croatia today and yet they are activists for Serbia’s anti-Croatian politics!  And with this, they all call for a future that is threaded together by peace and reconciliation between Croatia and Serbia!

Surely, Serbia’s use of the “Vomit Principle” cannot possibly succeed in achieving reconciliation because that would mean that Croatia has finally cowered to the pressure of liars and aggressors and that, in no small ways, spells out yet another myth Serbia has managed to forge and place on the world’s stage! To the detriment of humanity and truth! Ina Vukic

 

Unearthing Hidden Truth About Croatian Jasenovac Camp – An Interview with Igor Vukic

Igor Vukic
Photo: Screenshot

The month of April and early May are always very difficult and painful times for people who pursue the truth. Lies about the WWII Jasenovac Camp in Croatia has been the staple food of Yugoslav communists, headed by Serbs in whose interests it was to bury the truth of Serbia as one of the first “Jew Free” countries in WWII Europe. They buried that truth by ganging-up with various unsavoury characters, dubious and conniving historians and politicians with view to throwing all the blame and more for the Holocaust crimes in the region of Yugoslavia upon Croats and Croatia! They made up ludicrous numbers of victims and regardless of the fact their lies had been exposed they continue on their course and continue labelling anyone trying to research and bring up the real history, things that actually occurred as opposed to things fabricated by Serbs and communists and their friends – revisionists!

So, I was glad to have come up with a new interview with Igor Vukic. Igor Vukic is a Croatian historian, journalist, political scientist, publicist and researcher who has made it a particular mission of him to research archives and truth about the notorious Jasenovac Camp. It is notorious because of the lies and made-up numbers of victims that did not exists, hence truly insulting all victims who perished there. Igor Vukic is the president of the Jasenovac Triple Camp Research Society in Croatia. He also published several books, such as “Jasenovac Labor Camp” and “Jasenovac Day by Day,” which somehow destroyed the dark myth of Jasenovac. Otherwise, he says for his books that they are for those who are not afraid (of the truth);  because obviously everyone in Croatia still cannot speak publicly about their scientific research findings without being sanctioned in some way.

This interview with Igor Vukic  by Mladen Pavkovic

Translated with permission into English by Ina Vukic

First published on Brantieljski Portal (War Veteran’s Portal) 

 

Why is the Ustasha Jasenovac Camp still a “myth”, a taboo topic, why does all research into it encounter problems, even disapproval?

The Jasenovac Camp is a sensitive topic because in socialist Yugoslavia it served as an ideological bat for anyone who wanted to explore and realistically depict the events of World War II. A different Jasenovac history will strongly influence the evaluation of the history of the whole war and of post war period. Tito’s regime knew this well, so anyone who dared to touch the taboo was a hit target: Bruno Busic was killed, Dr. Franjo Tudjman imprisoned, Belgrade journalist Vladimir Markovic was sent to a mental hospital in 1979 when he agreed with part of Tudjman’s claims text  about Jasenovac … There was a vigilant and careful observation over what was written about Jasenovac in textbooks, encyclopaedias and doctoral dissertations. Unfortunately, this ideological monitoring has survived to this day in some form.

Serbs continue to tell their stories, especially about the 700 or more thousand killed in that camp, but they do not substantiate this claim with facts or documents…

The documents themselves say something else, but this does not interest those who talk about hundreds of thousands of victims. Thus, in Serbia and the part of Bosnia and Herzegovina run by Milorad Dodik, they are merely repeating the story weaved by old Yugo-communist and Greater Serbian story. Even though there are people out there who are clear about how nebulous the numbers are, and how impossible it is for so many people to get there at all, let alone be killed. But politicians often become ill with this syndrome of separation from reality. It seems to be the case here, too, when it comes to Jasenovac. For anyone with little interest in this subject of my research shows that it is impossible for Jasenovac to have 83,000 victims, which is the official number claimed in Croatia. This is also shown by the work of researchers such as Roman Leljak, Dr. Nikola Banic and Dr. Mladen Koic, and others. But our people here, too, tell the same old story, in a somewhat autistic manner. They do not really want to face the past, though they often repeat that phrase. Too complicated for them to incorporate into their policymaking.

You are the author of a very noticed book about this camp, and you publish your research results relatively often. Well, you seem to be increasingly challenged, even with those challenges that bear no connection to the “brain”?

There will always be disputes. No one serious can say that he handled something perfectly and that it did not reveal a certain mistake in his historical work. But that is why there is dialogue, discussion of results, re-examination of sources, archives, published material and memoirs. I am always ready for this and have sent numerous messages, for example to Hrvoje Klasic, but he simply does not have the strength to sit down and face my arguments. A similar fear of confronting arguments can be felt with other historians on the political spectrum. But when they are alone, they are very brave with gossiping and writing against us.

Why does the Croatian state not care to finally close the pages of this book?

Although I try hard, I cannot understand it. Almost every day around the world Jasenovac is mentioned in an extremely negative context. Through it, almost the entire Croatian people are accused of fictitious crimes. This coronavirus did little to help prevent the premiere of a new Jasenovac film (Dara from Jasenovac) in Serbia, which will repeat these worst accusations and portray them in the film for maximum propaganda effect. When that movie comes out, our politicians will be asked for comment. They will also have to explain and protest, as was the case two or three years ago when Serbs at the United Nations staged an exhibition about Jasenovac and Cardinal Stepinac. It looks like they have not learned anything from that lesson. It would be expected that for this very reason they organizs thorough research of Jasenovac and enable historians to show the Croatian and world public a realistic picture of Jasenovac.

It is little known that some of your family loved ones were in this camp…

My father and that part of my family lived in the village of Donja Gradina, opposite the Jasenovac camp. They lived there, although everyone in the village was of Orthodox faith without anyone touching them even after the camp across the Sava was established in August 1941. My father was born in 1938. In December 1941, partisans came to Gradina and attacked the camp by firing across the river. The whole village then, in fear of retaliation, had to retreat south to Mount Kozara. So, after June 15, 1942, they found themselves surrounded by German and Croatian forces who had taken action against a partisan group on that mountain. With many other civilians and my relatives surrendering to the oncoming army, they came out with white flags from the woods. They were then taken the same way, but in a different direction, north, towards Jasenovac. They were there briefly, without entering the camp itself, and were transported by train to western Slavonia, to Lipik. Together with at least 15,000 other refugees and prisoners from Kozara. My grandfather was not with them, because he was a partisan commander, first of a platoon and then of a company. He was captured and, according to some sources, shot dead in a cemetery near Bosanska Dubica, along with other prominent captured partisans. At the conclusion of the Battle of Kozara, German forces formed courts of war that assessed who was to be shot. Several thousand captured partisans were sent to work in Germany, while about 300 prominent commanders, commissioners, etc., were sentenced to death. The rest of the family: my father, grandmother and great-grandmother arrived in Pakrac Poljana via Lipik. Like other refugees and prisoners, they were distributed and allocated housing, food and assistance. After the war, my grandparents stayed in Poljana. My father married into the neighbouring village of Medric: my mother is of Croatian-Czech descent. I went to school in Pakrac Poljana from the first to the eighth grade.

And what is your opinion about the work done by the Jasenovac Memorial Area?

I learned water skiing on the Sava River just outside the Memorial area. We used to visit my dad’s relatives in Gradin, and we had one plastic boat with 28 horsepower Yamaha and that was great for enjoying the water. We also visited this museum very often. That is why I have always kept a close eye on what is written about Jasenovac, whether new information and memoirs of former detainees are emerging. I read a lot of what was published at the time. I was always interested in history as an excellent student and later a political science student at the Zagreb Faculty of Political Science, so I asked my family members how come they were not killed in the camp when they were Serbs. That is how it was believed then. I was told that they were rescued by an Ustasha who knew my grandfather before the war and did him a favour. Only later, through my own research, I found that passing through Jasenovac, but without entering the camp, was no exception in those days. As I said, at least 15,000 refugees from Kozara were sent to Slavonia. Thousands were taken to Germany for work – and many captured partisans and civilians. Some by train from Sisak, some by boat from Sava to Zemun, and from there by boat up the Danube to the Third Reich. When I recently confronted their relatives with research results, they confirmed it and added a wealth of valuable data. And that speaks to how taboo-topic Jasenovac was.

Josip Broz Tito reportedly visited Jasenovac twice but never talked about it. Is this important?

Dusan Dragosavac, a senior official of the League of Communists, claimed that Tito was in Jasenovac for the first time immediately after the war and then for the second time in the mid-1970s. He was supposedly with him that second time. But they were non-public, almost private tours. Tito never attended official commemorations. He did not need to be there. His propaganda machinery did his job for him. Jasenovac was a motive with which any movement for Croatian independence was threatened, for example. At the same time, Serbs were being spooked they would suffer again from a reoccurrence of the camp. Now we are slowly finding out that there was no such massive casualties. Tito laid the groundwork. In the spring of 1942, he wrote to local partisans to consider attacking the Jasenovac camp, “in which our 10,000 best comrades had already disappeared.” By that time, only about 2,000 prisoners had arrived at that camp. The promotional machine has begun building beyond the basic 10 thousand.

Where is most of the archive related to this camp?

There are quite enough documents that can clearly show its nature that can be found in Zagreb. They are available to anyone at the Croatian State Archives in Marulic Square. It sounds paradoxical, but an important part of the archive, from which one can see what the camp was like, is actually located in Zagreb. Now it is easy for me to say, but before 2012 I was not aware of this. About a year or two before that I had decided to explore Jasenovac as deeply as possible. I first started reading all the books published about the camp, from 1945. I was surprised that in many of the books published before 1990 there was much that coincided with the results of my present findings. But as mentioned before, that was something that one should not emphasise. Then, the Internet was already available as a tool for searching information about Jasenovac. One time, Google search accidentally showed that there was one letter from Jasenovac in the Croatian National Archives, in this and that fund. I asked them if I, as an ordinary citizen, as a journalist, could view archival documents, because I thought openly that only graduate historians, college professors, or employees of state institutes could do so. Seriously! They told me I could come, but I needed to know the fund number, boxes, documents … I started looking through the seven boxes first, one small fund left over from the Ustasha Surveillance Service. It was a real revelation: so much is written there! And these are original documents, not retold in a book. Then I would pick up a book by a historian and look at the footnotes at the bottom of the page. I would order a box with the document listed in the note, but then I would also take a few boxes before and after that first box. And gradually, the multidimensional world of the past began to unfold before me. I was thinking of staying in the National Archives for a week, so I bought a weekly pass. Here I have already collected nine annual cards and countless hours spent in the archive reading room.

Have you seen the movie “Diary of Diana Budisavljevic”, which I believe has little to do with the truth …?

Of course, I went to watch it at the first opportunity I got. Just as I read some new text related to Jasenovac as soon as I get my hands on it, no matter who wrote it. The movie “Diary of Diana Budisavljevic” is quite boring to say the least. Then, it is manipulative because it plays to the impression. That is legitimate in a movie, but here marketing presents that movie as if it depicts real events. Although even documentaries are not a literal account of reality, they tend to place events in a realistic context, especially the better ones. Everything is subordinate to the impression here, using deliberate pranks and movie tricks. Although this film presents itself as the result of 10 years of research, it is actually a few scenes written based on selectively chosen portions of Diana Budisavljevic’s diary. Distorted picture, but I believe more and more people in Croatia are realising this.

You also founded an association that deals with the problems surrounding the Jasenovac camp. Do you have government support, or is everything done relying on enthusiasm?

We were successful two years in a row to win a relatively modest amount of HRK 40,000 each year, in a tender for state finances for our project.  That is very modest compared to what some other associations receive. The project consisted of an examination of the records of the Communist World Commission for the Determination of War Crimes (ZKRZ), stored in the Croatian State Archives. In 1945, investigators from the ZKRZ questioned former detainees from the Jasenovac and Stari Grad camps. Most of the testimony clearly did not appeal to the propagandists of the time, because former detainees mostly spoke about their work in Jasenovac in one of the production facilities and did not see any mass killings. The fund holds 700 boxes, each with 700 to 1000 sheets of documents. My two colleagues and I were searching through, leaf by leaf, looking for statements relating to Jasenovac. Two years later, when we passed the 250 boxes, and started publishing our works and books, criticism was raised against the Government and the Ministry of Croatian Veterans Affairs, which carried the funding competition or tender for grants.  We were rejected for the third year, on the grounds that such research should be conducted by historical institutions and departments of history, and not by a civic association like ours. As if it is our fault that institutes and historical departments do not deal with this! There are also several historians in our society by education, we have war veterans and their children, we meet all the criteria! But it was enough that criticism was made by the Novosti weekly (newspaper Milorad Pupovac and the Serbian National Council publish), by the US Ambassador and Croatia’s Ombudsman Lora Vidovic. Prime Minister Plenkovic easily bowed to this “terrible pressure”. And with him, Minister Tomo Medved, who was not afraid of tanks during the war. But with them you never know where you stand, and you never know what the people’s  Ombudsman is setting up for you.

How do you think the truth about Jasenovac and other World War II camps will come out?

Researching archives first and foremost. I said that an important part of the information can be found in Zagreb, and there are many documents about Jasenovac in the regional archives – in Sisak, Pozega, Bjelovar, Slavonski Brod … Of course, there are many things in the Belgrade archives. Then, in Banja Luka, in Sarajevo, in Germany, Hungary, Bulgaria… It is little known (and little used) that there is a rich collection of microfilms in the Croatian State Archives in Zagreb, which contain copies of original documents from various bodies of the Independent State of Croatia (NDH). So, the archive of original documents from this or that NDH ministry is are located in Belgrade, but here, at our fingertips, in Zagreb, we have films and recordings of them and are able to review them and write about them. For example, you have an uprising against the NDH in July, August, and September 1941. These are accounts and reports from the field that flow into the General Staff of the Ministry of Homeland Security. You see cities and places in flames, in the environment, you see a state that is making extreme efforts to protect its population. That sends planes with food and ammunition to surrounded crews, counts the dead … Sounds familiar? It is like watching a war game, or the best documentary on History. It is all there! Why have Croatian historians used their documents (their recordings) so rarely? Here we go back to the beginning of our conversation. But it seems that there are more and more historians willing to address these taboos.

What do you know about the first Ustasha camp Danica (Koprivnica)?

I have not gone much into it but I came across an excellent book about Danica, published by historian Zdravko Dizdar after many years of research. As far as I could see, he found that three detainees had lost their lives in that camp. And many earlier texts talk about there being 2000 to 4000 prisoners killed in there. Then, that 30,000 people were interned, and in fact, about 4300 were imprisoned. These were exaggerations, like those about Jasenovac. That is why it is important to thoroughly cover all these neuralgic points of Croatian recent history.

Do you know that this camp is not of interest to various Pupovacs and the like, that no one from the state bodies has officially visited it so far, and that after all, this Memorial Area is in a place where camps did not exist !?

There is no need to spend too many words on minority representatives and their relationship with history. They are pursuing their interests and are not interested in some serious, realistic approach. That is why they are focusing on Jasenovac and several other places, because they can get away with that for now.

And what do you think of your fellow historians? Don’t you think there is a “cheer” among them as in football?

The social sciences are not exactly mathematics or physics where something can be accurately measured with the help of some technical devices, though I see that there are some controversies among mathematicians, physicists and, say, epidemiologists. Contributions about history are often more or less marked by the character and heritage of its author, his social position, and even his personal courage. But all this can normally be remedied by dialogue, serious and well-grounded criticism, comparison with other research, and similar techniques.

The Serbs, we hear, are also making a feature film about Jasenovac. Why don’t Croats do the same?

– Croats could make several great films with themes from the Homeland War, but they still do not. When they make a movie about World War II you get the Diary of Diana Budisavljevic. I hope that the time will come when good films will be made about Jasenovac, which will have both cinematic and artistic value and will not distort what was really going on there. First, the results of a serious investigation into the Jasenovac camp must be given public rights, and then interested filmmakers may indeed emerge.

What is scarier to you: the Srebrenica massacre or all that was happening in Jasenovac?

There were no mass, serial killings in Jasenovac. There are no remains of victims, no documents, no credible witness statements. If we take only the segment of treatment of prisoners of war, we will see that in 1943 the Independent State of Croatia acceded to the Geneva Convention and applied its provisions even to the captured partisans. Although this type of illegal fighters was not covered by the convention. Even the partisans captured in Sutjeska were brought to Jasenovac. Imagine this situation, taking prisoners across the country, providing food, medical treatment if needed. Partisan spy Jaroslav Cherni, discovered in Sarajevo, was the head of a construction group in Jasenovac and was paid a salary. A young partisan, Bogdan Petkovic, was captured at Oborov and wounded in the arm and leg. He was transported to Zagreb, cured in hospital and imprisoned in a camp in Jasenovac. In February 1945 he was sent from the camp to work in Germany with a large transport of prisoners. And almost everyone returned home after the war. And the prisoners of Srebrenica?

How do you look at the “For Home Ready” greeting? Specifically, this greeting was used in World War II, but also in the Homeland War!

First of all, I think it is important that no one be prosecuted or punished for using this greeting in Croatia. As I believe no one should be punished for pointing out a red star and other symbols of communism. I believe that Croatian society is democratically mature enough to bear it. “For Home ready” is undoubtedly an Ustasha greeting, conceived by the leader of that movement, Ante Pavelic, and did not exist in that form before him. The ZDS is undoubtedly one of the symbols of the Independent State of Croatia, both of what was good and what was not valid. I am interested to refer to the book by the renowned historian Dr. Jere Jareb, “Half a Century of Croatian Politics”, which describes how well it prevailed. Regarding the use of greetings in the Homeland War, it is even easier and clearer to see how the positive things prevailed. The vast majority of people in Croatia know this, too, and these attacks on the HOS and its sign are doomed.

Mr. Vukic, what are your future plans?

There are three main plans: research, research and – research. There is much more archival material to review in order to complete the historical picture of the events in the war-time Jasenovac. It would be nice to visit the archives in Serbia and BiH and see what they all have on Jasenovac. An arrangement should be made with friends who live abroad (Germany, Italy, Hungary, Finland, etc.) to go through the archives in the countries where they live, because of they have good knowledge of the local language. We have already done some of this and it has produced great results. It would be good to make a documentary film. I would like to write a history of Serbs in the Independent State of Croatia. At the same time book presentations should be organised, fundraising for the work of our society on Jasenvac should be raised. Then, answer the questions of those who are interested, participate in discussions on social networks (since we cannot yet on national televisions). There are many tasks, but for those interested in these topics, this job is also a real pleasure – said Igor Vukic.

 

 

 

Rebuttal to Seb Starcevic’s Rant Claiming Croatian Celebration of Fascism in Australia

 

Seb Starcevic’s article is an example that evidences the fact that we still do not live in a post-truth world and never have. On the contrary, we live in a pre-truth world where truth is yet to arrive.

Seb Starcevic’s article “In Australia, some Croats openly celebrate fascism,” published  on Balkaninsight portal on 10th September 2019 presents to the public a point on the continuum of vicious Serb anti-Croat propaganda, often weaved with tangents of malicious historical lies and allegations of some sort of terrorism and fascism being alive and kicking within the Australian Croatian community.  Apart from the evidently calculated intention to inflict damage to the reputation of the Croatian people in Australia, even though he uses the phrase “some Australian Croats”, it does seem that the article was also written in order to throw the truth-seeking scent off the current historical research in Croatia that has the capacity of debunking the Serb-led propaganda about WWII Jasenovac camp in Croatia. Sonja Biserko a Serbian campaigner for human rights, the founder and president of the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia stated in recent years that the Serbian history is based on lies and myths and so it is of no surprise that the maintenance of such history has been transported into Australia by those of Serb extraction.

Starcevic opens his article saying that in Sydney’s western suburbs a Croatian club flies two flags: Australian and the flag of the WWII Independent State of Croatia/NDH. Contrary to innuendo in Starcevic’s article suggesting some criminal activity he attempts to associate with this flag, Australian law does not prohibit the NDH flag on its soil and it is not unlawful to fly similar flags of legitimate historical states or states who fought for independence but did not succeed in their fight. Starcevic would perhaps like the public to think that by flying the NDH flag some sort of soft fascism, if not fully blown fascism in practice is at the core of it! Nothing could be further from the truth. While in his article Starcevic calls WWII Croatia a Nazi puppet state he omits to say that Serbia was one also and that WWII flag of Serbia is also raised at some Serbian clubs and Chetnik organisations in the diaspora (and that flag represents Milan Nedic’s and Serb Chetnik’s fight against communists in collaboration with the Nazis, responsible for the first Jew-free country in WWII Europe). The important thing about the NDH flag raised at the club Starcevic writes about is that it is the flag that represents Croatia’s struggle for independence and, given the horrific times of the 20th century that struggle occurred in, one can with regret say that there were crimes committed by members on all sides, but the truth is also  that  majority of members of the independence movements did not commit crimes. And that is a historical fact.

Then, in a malicious attempt to paint the Australian Croats as terrorists, his article goes into telling the public about Dr Kristy Campion’s historical terrorism research that also delves into Croatian Ustasha activities in Australia in the 1960’s and the 1970’s.  He conveniently omits to also refer to modern day facts as found after the release to the public of relevant Commonwealth of Australia Archives a few years back that are said to have revealed a collaboration between secret services – parts of Australian ASIO and Yugoslav (read Serb) UDBA – which can be associated with the framing of Croatian immigrants for planning terrorist activities. Starcevic further omits to mention that in Campion’s bibliography there is a significant reference to “Alleged Croatian Terrorist Organisation” and NOT “Croatian Terrorist Organisation” (PDF).  It would seem too much to expect that Starcevic would even consider the truth or a possible truth about Australian Croats given that such truth shows up his writings as nothing more than blatant hate speech.

After referring to a former Croatian Foreign Minister and former Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor as having said that no one should dismiss the crimes of the WWII Ustashe regime Starcevic goes on to say: “…But that didn’t stop Australia’s Croatian community from hosting an assortment of far-right figures in 2018, including journalist Igor Vukic and Croatian politician Zeljko Glasnovic, who have downplayed the crimes of the Ustasa regime. In a speaking tour called ‘Croatia Uncensored’, Vukic, Glasnovic and others visited Croatian clubs around Australia to discuss a variety of controversial topics, including the ‘the myth and lies of Jasenovac’, a concentration camp established by the Ustasa in WWII. The number of those who perished in the camp is regularly disputed by right-wing politicians and commentators in Croatia.” The fact is that the claimed and estimated numbers of those perished in Jasenovac range from the ludicrous and physically impossible 1 million, to some 40,000, and these numbers do not come from right-wing politicians so why wouldn’t the right-wing politicians, or any politician for that matter, go about disputing the numbers! In fact, and for the truth’s sake, it is desirable to dispute them and delve into research to come to the truth.

While Starcevic omits to corroborate with verifiable references his generalised claims that Vukic, Glasnovic etc “have downplayed the crimes of Ustasa,” one would expect from a journalist making such claims to provide in the same article some evidence or corroboration for his claims that during the “Croatia Uncensored” speaking tour in Australia there was “downplaying of the crimes of the Ustasha regime” as well as to the claim that research into Jasenovac camp constitutes a controversial topic! Since when do attempts to find the truth through historical research constitute a controversy? Or are we dealing here with possible fear in Starcevic and those like him that Serb propaganda will eventually be proven a lie, scientifically and factually?

How deplorable it is for a journalist to write about two historical researchers (Kristy Campion and Igor Vukic) in the same article and in that same article label one of the researchers (the one who researched Croatian Ustashe of late 1960’s and 1970’s/Campion) with credibility and the other (researching historical documentation and archives on WWII Jasenovac) as being controversial! It would seem that Starcevic would ignore the integrity of fact-based historical research on WWII Croatia if it bit him on the back side.

From Left: Zeljko Glasnovic, Josip Jurcevic, Tom Sunic, Igor Vukic
Croatia Uncensored tour 2018

Furthermore, as one of the organisers of the 2018 “Croatia Uncensored” talking tour in Australia I can confirm that the tour was organised in order to raise Croatian public discussion on existing barriers in Croatia preventing the development of a fully functional democracy and to give support to the various scientific historical research endeavours, such as Vukic’s, that aim to present verifiable historical facts on the victims of Jasenvac camp. If Vukic is to be called by derogatory names and insulted as Starcevic does in his article, for attempting to break the myth and lies about Jasenovac then that name-calling talks about Starcevic more than what it does about Vukic. Vukic’s research (and research of others on the same issue) is particularly relevant given the rampant and wild estimates of victims that allegedly perished in WWII Jasenovac camp at the hands of Ustashe that keep the world ill-informed and Croats generally vilified. The historical fact in pursuits of the truth is that Jasenovac remained open until 1953 and that it was used for post-WWII communist purges. Surely to reach a post-truth existence one needs to confirm by documentary and testimonial research what was what! It is a fact that research into Jasenovac camp has been alarmingly non-existent, scarce or inadequate during the decades of communist Yugoslavia regime. Why would anyone want to stop or thwart any research into history – regardless of the outcome of such research!?

Starcevic goes further in his attempt to vilify Australian Croatians by saying that several clubs pay tribute to convicted war criminals such as Slobodan Praljak and Dario Kordic but fails miserably to tell his readers that the conviction in the Hague rested upon some political support or “chain of command responsibility” and no evidence was presented to the court that, for instance, Kordic ever ordered any killings. Hearsay evidence and political constructs reportedly played a significant part in court judgments and Praljak committed suicide in the Hague courtroom as judgment against him was pronounced – maintaining his innocence of crimes the court had convicted him of. Given that fact, and given the professionally reported political weight weaved into the very indictments and judgments that saw these two Croats convicted of war crimes in the Hague, who personally committed no crimes, one would think that if someone decides to hail as heroes these two men then that someone is not guided by some Croatian nationalistic creed but by the very perceptions that justifiably enter a human mind upon such occasions and circumstances. The democracy we live in cherishes personal opinions as a given right but frowns upon opinions designed to vilify entire communities as Starcevic appears to be doing.

Starcevic says further in his article: “In recent years, this rhetoric has escalated to anti-Serb vandalism and death threats. In 2016, a Serbian Orthodox church in Geelong was vandalised with the Ustasa logo, swastikas and fascist slogans such as ‘the only good Serb is a dead Serb’…” For the first time, ever, through this article written by Starcevic the Australian Croats are associated with the said vandalism! Unless Seb Starcevic knows the facts as to who the perpetrator/s of this criminal vandalism was/were but failed to publish the details in his article, then only one conclusion is possible: Seb Starcevic is on the bandwagon of the propaganda whose only aim is to vilify Croats; to spread hatred and hate speech. That is absolutely unacceptable and utterly un-Australian! Besides, how can anyone tell that it may not have been an Australian Serb who committed that vandalism on the Orthodox church in Geelong? Why write about this act of vandalism in this article about Australian Croats? Certainly, to my knowledge, no one had been arrested for or charged with that crime, Croat or otherwise. The idea that it could have been a Serb who vandalised the church with Ustasha logo is not far-fetched when we know that the Australian Serb Vitomir Misimovic infiltrated in the 1970’s the Australian Croatian community pretending to be a Croat named Vico Virkez only to frame and falsify his court testimony against the so-called Croatian Six for terrorism. We know that those Croats were convicted of attempted terrorism, we know they served jail sentences for it, but we also now know that they were framed by no other than Australian Serbs, Yugoslav (Serb) Secret Police UDBA.

Starcevic’s viciously malicious intent to vilify Croats through innuendo is also palpable in the following paragraph of his said article: “On Tuesday, a Sydney resident named Ivan – who is Croatian – tweeted about seeing a man on a train with an Ustasa tattoo on his leg. Ivan told BIRN the man looked to be in his early twenties and was wearing shorts that exposed the Ustasa logo on the back of one of his calves,” writes Starcevic. Well Mr Starcevic can you or BIRN please ask that “Sydney resident Ivan” whether the man on the train with Ustasa tattoo on his leg is actually of Croatian extraction! Guess what Mr Starcevic – Prince Harry wore a Swastika on his sleeve in public only a few years ago!  Ina Vukic

 

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