Croatian Academy HAZUDD To Jerusalem Post

Dear Sir/Madam,

Your editorial from August 22 and the reactions of Dejan Ristic and Ivo Goldstein and Efraim Zuroff to the article by David Goldman, which you in the meantime withdrew from your website but left the above articles, prompted us to this reaction, hoping for at least some balance, which in fact represents the reality on the world stage of opinions and historical facts discovered to date, on this topic in your newspaper.

There is no need to fear that the Holocaust, as a unique form of collective persecution of the Jewish people, will fall into oblivion, as long as children are taught about it in school history classes. Anyone with a modest knowledge of foreign languages ​​and history today can access information about the results of the census in Central and Eastern Europe and be convinced that during Nazi rule, Jews disappeared in large numbers as well as their religious and cultural objects (synagogues, schools, etc.). If not killed or destroyed, any reasonable person would wonder where millions of people and their places of worship could have gone?

This applies both to both the Independent State of Croatia (NDH), which existed in 1941-45 and included the territory of today’s Croatia (for the most part) and Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as Serbia. The fact that many more Jews survived the Holocaust in Croatia, in both number and percentage of the Jewish population, than in Serbia, is the result of continuous, extensive rescue operations by the domicile Croatian population and the Catholic Church led by Archbishop Stepinac of Zagreb. While for Archbishop Stepinac, saving Jews was a daily task of caring, the heads of the Serbian Orthodox Church praised Hitler and openly sided with the Nazis against the Jews. If it wasn’t for the works of Esther Gitman, a Fulbright Scholar, (sources: “When Courage Prevailed – rescue and survival of Jews in the Independent State of Croatia 1941-1945” 2011 and “Alojzije Stepinac: Pillar of Human Rights” 2019), which are hardly mentioned in the press, the significant actions of rescuing Jews in the NDH would remain almost completely silenced. The efforts of many Jews to achieve the proclamation of Archbishop Stepinac as Righteous Among the Nations have so far been futile, thus creating a large stain on the reputation of the state of Israel among Croats. There were not many individuals in the enslaved Europe who, like Archbishop Stepinac, dared during the war of 1942 to declare publicly that there was only one race: the race of God (Esther Gitman research).

Despite the facts, the Serbian side on one hand expands the term Holocaust without foundation and thus dilutes it to the suffering of Serbs (Croats), and on the other hand narrows it to the Jasenovac camp, which is thus given mystical properties. An uninformed reader of the Serbian press could conclude that World War II took place mainly in the Jasenovac camp, where Croats killed 800,000 to a million Serbs, and that the Holocaust was a minor side event.

For many years, the number of 5 million non-Jewish Holocaust victims has been bandied around worldwide, and Israeli Gideon Greif, in his work entitled “Jasenovac, Auschwitz of the Balkans”, published by Knjiga komerc Serbia in 2018, claims by pure speculation of other speculators of history, and without exact evidence, that one million, if not more, Serbs lost their lives as victims of the Holocaust in Croatia! So, in such dark alleys along which Greif evidently also moves, a fifth of all non-Jewish victims of the Holocaust in Europe were Serbs! This is the number of victims without scientific basis, and the well-known Nazi and their collaborators hunter, the late Simon Wiesenthal, once said that this number of non-Jewish victims of the Holocaust was “intended to increase sympathy for Jewish suffering but is now more used to obscure it.” Sure, there were many non-Jewish victims of the Holocaust, but inventing the magnitude of that number, as has been done for decades for Serb victims, evidently seeks to diminish or dilute the severity of the tragedy experienced by the Jewish people in the Holocaust.

The bigger tragedy in this prevailing modern world ping pong game about which Holocaust victim was a bigger victim, Jew or non-Jew, lies in the fact that Serbs, with the help of people like Efraim Zuroff and Gideon Greif, seem to have managed to cleanse Serbian hands as the culprits for the extermination of 94% of Serbian Jews in World War II and by August 1942 achieving the status of one of the first countries in Europe to be “Judenfrei” (Jew-free). It is clear to all but Serbs and their political friends that the Serbs and their government of Milan Nedic, not the German Nazis, attached the “Star of David” to Jewish chests and painted it on the facades of Jewish homes, thus marking Jews for extermination.

It is precisely for the removal of this systematic, long-standing blurring of facts, mentioned by David Goldman, that a thorough, multidisciplinary investigation of the events in the Jasenovac camp is necessary as this in itself is indicated by very diverse findings:

1. According to Ivo Goldstein and others, the Jasenovac camp did not cease operating on April 22, 1945, but served as a camp for internment of opponents of Tito’s Yugoslav communist regime to at least May 1951.The Bjelovar Divisional military court findings on 8/28/1946 regarding detainee escape from the camp on 28.08.1946 (source: Croatian State Archives), as well as a 1951 CIA report, serve as evidence of that fact. It is not known that, to date, anyone has systematically deal with research of the victims of the Jasenovac camp after April 22, 1945. Perhaps there were Jews among them also?

2. Analysis of the official list of victims of the Jasenovac camp, managed by the state institution JUSP Jasenovac, using Data Science methods, showed that the list is for the most part (89% of entries) unreliable. The current census, for example, lists victims born in 1969 and 1975, respectively.

3. Contrary to the testimonies of the alleged mass executions in the Jasenovac camp in the period 1941-45, there are also testimonies of men who were boys of that time, who attended trade classes in the camp, that there were no such events.

4. When Bosnian Serbs had to leave the conquered territories around Sarajevo in 1996 as a result of the Dayton Accords, they exhumed the remains of their loved ones in front of TV cameras and took them to their new places of residence. With these acts they strongly showed their stand that remains of their loved ones should not remain in enemy territory. It is interesting that no such request for exhumation of post mortal remains was requested for the Jasenovac camp, which is located on the territory of Croatia.

5. Prompted by the above facts, forensic experts (e.g. letter from prof. dr. sc. Simun Krizanac published in “Hrvatski tjednik” weekly magazine on 12.07.2018 ) already contacted authorities and requested the search and exhumation of the human remains in Jasenovac, believing that firm conclusions about such a camp must be based on forensic medicine research methods.

6. The general progress of science has led to the fact that reconstruction and identification can be carried out for centuries-old human remains.

7. World War II archives are gradually opening up and, hence, opening up space for new insights and new interpretations.

It is clear from the abovesaid that the actual Holocaust on the territory of the then Independent State of Croatia, for which the NDH authorities are co-responsible, is clouded and confused by Serbia’s attempts to portray the course of World War II in Croatia primarily as genocide against the Serbian people. They are wholeheartedly helped by the descendants of the Yugoslav communist rulers (the so-called Red Nobility), who still rule Croatia today, who in this way want to cover up the crimes of their ancestors perpetrated immediately after World War II and during the 45-year reign of fear over Croats until 1990. If it is shown that Croats committed collective genocide during World War II, then by that same logic it would be correct for the Yugoslav Communists to commit comprehensive and protracted revenge and re-education, right?

Let’s finish with Croatia. In the very centre of Zagreb, in Praška Street, there is a parking lot on the site where the synagogue demolished in 1941-42was. This is the simplest proof that the Holocaust took place in Croatia as well. Tito’s Yugoslav communist government, hostile to Jews and Israel, not only did not rebuild it, but demolished the remaining synagogues and many Jewish cemeteries, and built a department store on the site of the Zagreb synagogue, which burned to the ground in a mysterious fire in 1980.

From President Tudjman onwards, the Croatian authorities proposed to the two Jewish communities the reconstruction of the synagogue, which has not happened so far, because the Jewish communities could not agree on the basic parameters. Ivo Goldstein, who never declared himself publicly as a Jew or a believer during Yugoslavia, also plays a not insignificant role in that community. At that time, neither his late father Slavko nor he condemned the demolition of synagogues, for example in Rijeka in 1948, or the anti-Semitic attitude of Tito’s regime, and such dishonourable conduct is not mentioned even today. In addition, the so-called scientist opposes both questioning and further research on the topic of the Jasenovac camp, thus violating the foundations of scientific methodology, to which, as a university professor, he should be deeply loyal.

In Croatia, and especially in Zagreb, there are many valuable real estates, which were taken from the Jews during the Second World War and were never returned to them. They are now inhabited by members of the “red nobility”, who, like Ivo Goldstein and Ognjen Kraus, invent fascism in Croatia, and have never advocated for the correction of injustice against Jews by returning stolen Jewish property.

From all of the above said it follows that the state of Israel, the Jewish people and their reputable media such as the Jerusalem Post, should devote themselves to a detailed investigation of all potential execution sites of Jews during the Holocaust. But if researching the execution sites of Jews during the Holocaust is an area that newspapers like the Jerusalem Post cannot deal with, because such an activity is not on their list of activities for which they are legally licensed, then those same newspapers should contribute to the research of truth and facts by also publishing written articles in relation to all research on the rescue of Jews during the Holocaust in Croatia (eg Esther Gitman) and on Jasenovac after the Second World War (eg Blanka Matković, Stipo Pilić, Igor Vukić, etc.). It is unworthy of the oldest nation in history to be represented in any part of the world by individuals like Ivo Goldstein, ready at any moment for an anti-scientific invention like the notorious bone crusher. This achieves the exact opposite effect, which Goldman rightly observes. Namely, the suspicion that Israel and Serbia have a joint propaganda venture of exaggerating the victims of World War II is completely unnecessarily fuelled. While Serbia abuses victims tenfold (and more) as a justification for hegemonic action in its neighbourhood, it is unclear why the state of Israel clearly does not distance itself from such dishonourable actions.

And even if Ivo Goldstein is completely right with his claim about the bone crusher, which the Ustashas would use just before the end of the war to remove the remains of their victims, (and it cannot be, because neither he nor anyone else mentions it in his and other authors’ numerous books!), then it would be a huge challenge for scientists in the field of forensics and forensic medicine to use the territory of Jasenovac as a testbed for methods of identifying post mortal remains originating in particularly difficult conditions. Judging by his publications and public appearances, Ivo Goldstein has never met a forensic expert or does not know that such a profession exists at all.

A scientist who, in today’s age of reliable analytical and diagnostic methods, claims that everything has been researched and should no longer be researched, recalls into memory the embarrassment of Thomas Watson, the former head of IBM, and thus disqualifies himself in scientific and professional circles.

The diametrically different attitudes towards the smouldering Israeli-Arab conflict, which escalates every now and then, in the successor states of the former Yugoslavia clearly shows which nations, states and political currents are turned to Jews with fraternal respect and understanding, and which with intolerance prone to totalitarian movements and parties. It would be nice if the Jerusalem Post devoted more space to such differences and reflections, instead of history innovator Ivo Goldstein or Dejan Ristic and their collaborator Efraim Zuroff, who present themselves as Holocaust investigators while denying the genocide in Srebrenica, which the Serbian army perpetrated 26 years ago literally in front of TV cameras.

With regards

Dr. sc. Josip Stjepandic, President, Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts in the Diaspora and Homeland / HAZUDD

 Mr. sc. Ina Vukic, Vice President, HAZUDD

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.

 

 

 

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