Auschwitz Of The Balkans Was In Serbia, Not Croatia!

Jews rounded up in Belgrade, Serbia 1941 Photo: National Archives Germany

Serbia continues playing a victim of WWII killings, it now shows a depraved desire to add Serbs killed in WWII to the Holocaust victim numbers even though it itself implemented the worst possible degree of the Holocaust – a state free of Jews!  It mass murdered others during WWII, it perpetrated genocide and ethnic cleansing in 1990’s in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina! It still has “friends” around the world that will help it promote lies and half-truths in order to conceal its own crimes against humanity both historical and 20th century ones.

Serbian Nazi fascists worked closely with German Nazi officials in making Belgrade the first ‘Judenfrei’ city of Europe by mid-1942. Serbian leader Milan Nedic made an official visit to Adolf Hitler on 19 September 1943, advancing the idea that Serbia is no place for Jews and thanking ‘Führer’ for his decision to exterminate Jewish people in Europe. And they did – between 90 and 94% of Serbia’s Jews were exterminated in various concentration camps across Serbia.

Adolf Hitler demanded of Ante Pavelic of Independent State of Croatia to make Croatia Jew-Free (Judenfrei) – Pavelic rejected and Croatia was never on the Jew-Free path even if it did have racial laws, as did almost every country in Europe then and beyond.

Gideon Greif, the author of the book “Jasenovac – the Auschwitz of the Balkans” evidently commissioned by Serbia’s government is just another link to the anti-Croatian propaganda chain coming out of Serbia, spreading around the world like a foul stench of hatred padded with Serbian nationalistic platform of Greater Serbia (examples from recent past of such propaganda include the Serbian exhibition January 2018 in New York ‘The Right Not to Forget’, then January 2021 the movies ‘Dara of Jasenovac’…)

It is yet another notch in the Serbian chain of attempts to include Serbs killed in WWII into the Holocaust numbers, into the very heart of the Holocaust, the extermination of Jews in which, by the way, Serbs participated to the point of achieving a Jew-Free Serbia by mid-1942! Like no other state of former Yugoslavia or indeed Eastern Europe!

Gideon Greif has no problems whatsoever publishing numbers of victims in WWII Jasenovac Camp in Croatia that not only have no foundation in truth, in factual research (he also may belong to those who will call any such research “revisionism” because such research would prove them as liars!), that are exaggerated to ludicrous and physically impossible numbers, that obviously serve only the Serb and communist Yugoslavia agenda, which was to place the blame of the Holocaust in former Yugoslavia upon Croatia so that the Yugoslav communists largely led by Serbs could say they “liberated” Croatia in 1945, even though he holds some positions of a University Professor around the world! Gideon Greif in his decision to call Jasenovac the “Auschwitz of the Balkans” does not concern himself with a thorough comparison of the numbers or percentages of Jews and others who actually perished in Jasenovac with the numbers or percentages of Jews and others who actually perished in the concentration camps of WWII Serbia or, if you like, concentration camps across Yugoslavia. Perhaps because he would have to conclude that Serbia, not Croatia, would take the lead in Jew-Free pursuits and the percentage of native Jews exterminated. Had Greif studied the entire Yugoslavia, without giving the fabricated numbers of victims any importance, he would realise that the “Auschwitz of the Balkans” was actually in Serbia and not Croatia. After all, Serbia with its numerous concentration camps was “proudly” Jew-Free and Croatia was not, nor did it want to be.

In this, Greif constantly refers to the WWII “so-called Independent State of Croatia” to presumably give himself some sort of justification (not that he appears as a person who seeks justification in these matters) for not addressing WWII Yugoslavia as a whole in his writings. However, the fact is that Croatia did declare itself independent in April 1941, but it was not fully internationally recognised as an independent or sovereign state. The reality was that a section of Croatian people fought for Croatian independence during WWII (and did not succeed) and a section of Croatian people, joined by the Serbs, fought to keep Croatia within the Yugoslav federation (and succeeded). Hence, when addressing the Holocaust in Croatia one must also address the Holocaust in Yugoslavia and all its States in order to give the history a deserved place in truth and facts.

Gideon Greif in this book panders to the Serbian pursuit of depravity whereby the Serbs constantly lie to the world that 500,000, or more, Serbs were murdered in WWII Jasenovac and pursue forcefully pinning Serbs to the Holocaust victims! There is no need to ask for verification or validation of those figures because there are none. None that are based on facts, just political imagination and political pursuits. The numbers of victims published via the Jasenovac Memorial Centre records is that 47627 Serbs perished there and 11,116 Jews perished etc. Nowhere near the numbers Greif is trying to push. Current research at hand and recent research into historical documents is beginning to show much lower numbers of victims at Jasenovac than above and much of that current work should see the light of day in publications within the coming couple of years, I believe.

Gideon Greif tells the world that from the information he received regarding numbers of victims in Jasenovac/Croatia during WWII the numbers climb around 1 million; he says about 800,000 Serbs, about 40,000 Jews…He does not say that the information he received is information from persons who used guesswork, estimates and exaggeration for political reasons, no facts that are verifiable in any objective shape or form for such numbers. He continues to recycle the numbers of Serbs reportedly killed in WWII Croatia, which have absolutely no foundation in facts and truth but have been put out there for decades by Serbs and Yugoslav communists who would put WWII Nazi Joseph Goebbels’ and his PR approach to shame: ““tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it…”.

So, the world and the truth about the Holocaust simply cannot afford to rely on Gideon Greif writings because his writings are selective when it comes to WWII Yugoslavia, use fabricated or estimated numbers of victims and are, therefore, politically charged.

Here is an excerpt of Holocaust survivor truth regarding Serbia and its attempts over past few years to rehabilitate the butcher of Serbian Jews during WWII – Prime Minister of WWII Serbia Milan Nedic.

Yahalom Kashny, 4 September 2010 “As a survivor of the Holocaust, I am increasingly agitated by Serbian revisionist propaganda on the internet.

The crimes of the Croatian Ustashas were terrible, but the Serbian Chetniks also collaborated with German Nazis in World War II. Serbia was a Nazi puppet state in World War II led by Milan Nedic, Serbian fascist collaborator.

The oppression of Jews in Serbia started before the arrival of Hitler’s occupying forces. Six months before the Nazi invasion of Yugoslavia, Serbia voluntarily passed the legislation restricting Jewish participation in the economy, education and employment. One year later, on 22 October 1941, anti-Semitic ‘Grand Anti-Masonic Exhibit’ was funded by Serbia’s capital city, Belgrade.

Serbian Nazi collaborators WWII with German soldiers in 1944 Photo: thegoldmanreport.org

Serbian Nazi fascists worked closely with German Nazi officials in making Belgrade the first “Judenfrei” city of Europe. Serbian leader Milan Nedic made an official visit to Adolf Hitler on 19 September 1943, advancing the idea that Serbia is no place for Jews and thanking ‘Führer’ for his decision to exterminate our people in Europe.

Throughout the War, the Serbian Chetnik movement remained almost completely inactive against the occupation forces, and increasingly collaborated with the Axis, losing its international recognition as the Yugoslav resistance force.

On 20 December 1941, the Serbian Chetnik army supreme commander, Draza Mihailovic, issued the ‘instructions’ to his units, outlining his mission to create ethnically pure Serbia and commit genocide against the non-Serbs, particularly Bosnian Muslims who in large numbers joined anti-fascist Partisans. According to Mihailovic’s instructions, Chetnik army’s objective is:

‘The creation of Greater Yugoslavia, and within it Greater Serbia, ethnically clean within the borders of Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Syrmia, Banat, and Bačka; The cleansing of all national minorities [including Jews] and anti-state elements from state territory; The creation of direct common borders between Serbia and Montenegro, as well as Serbia and Slovenia by cleansing the Bosniak population from Sandžak, and the Bosniak [Bosnian Muslim] and Croat populations from Bosnia and Herzegovina; The settlement of the areas cleansed of national minorities and anti-state elements by Serbs and Montenegrins (to be considered are poor, nationally patriotic, and honest families).’

With Adolf Hitler’s blessing, Serbian Nazi collaborators established the Serbian State Guard which comprised of around 20,000 Serb fascists, compared to the the 3,400 German police in Serbia. Their mission was to hunt down and kill Jews, Gypsies and other non-Serbs.

Milan Nedic’s second in command was Dimitrije Ljotic. Ljotic founded the Serbian Fascist Party and organized the Serbian SS Volunteers Corps which hunted down and killed Jews, Gypsies and Muslims. Serbian citizens received cash bounties for capturing or killing Jews.

Banjica concentration camp was primarily operated by Serb Nazis who took sadistic pleasure in killing Jews. The camp was created by converting barracks of the Serbian SS 18th infantry division. The funding for this conversion came not from Germans, but from the municipal budget of Belgrade.

Operation Halyard has often been cited as ‘evidence’ of the Chetniks’ continuing strong pro-Allied sympathies for rescuing as many as 500 downed Allied airmen. However, they did so because they were paid in gold for each rescue. Partisans and Ustashas also rescued Allied airmen, and they were also paid in gold. Having lost all Allied support to the Partisans (along with the recognition of the King Peter II), and with the Axis defeat in Europe a certainty, Serbian Nazi collaborator Draza Mihailović went to great lengths to regain Allied support and to portray himself in a favourable light. However, the Allies were aware that Mihailović’s troops were rescuing German and Ustaše aviators from the Partisans (as indicated in a Nedić government report of February 1944) and, on other occasions, even hunted down Allied aviators on behalf of the Axis occupation.

Serbian collaborationist forces during this period, sanctioned by the Serbian fascist government, also included the ZBOR party and Serbian Volunteer Corps led by Dimitrije Ljotić and the rogue Chetnik faction of Kosta Pećanac. Serbian Gestapo, officially known as the 1st Belgrade Special Combat detachment, was a special Serbian SS police unit which was established in World War II Serbia.

It was only after the withdrawal of the Germans and the overthrow of the Nedic regime in October 1944 that the Serbs in Serbia began to join the anti-fascist Partisans in large numbers. These new Partisans included tens of thousands of former Serbian Nazi collaborators responding to Tito’s promises of amnesty…

Instead of poisoning the internet with half-truths and outright lies, it is time for Serbia and the Serbs to face reality and acknowledge they collaborated with Nazis and committed a genocide over Jewish and Bosnian Muslim population in World War II. May your God forgive you, but Jewish people won’t.”

Haris Deutsch, a member of the Jewish Community of Belgrade said in October 2016 that the organisation would call witnesses to testify about Nedic’s active participation in the Holocaust at the ongoing rehabilitation hearings.

“About 90 percent of the Jewish population in Serbia was murdered while Nedic was in power and Belgrade was the first city in Europe to be declared free of Jews.

Rehabilitation would represent a devaluation of indisputable historical facts, and an insult to all the victims and survivors of the Holocaust,” Deutsch said.

Serbia and Yugoslav communists have been lying to the world since 1945 regarding the true facts of victims in WWII in Croatia and Serbia, ensuring that Croatia gets the bulk of the blame as a matter of their official “state” position. And they fabricated numbers of victims in Croatia to the level that would surely shock the world! Today, Croatia is experiencing an appalling lack of political and government will that would correct these wrongs perpetrated against WWII Croatia, against Croatian people. That sad reality is because former Yugoslav communists, former 1990’s Serb aggressor against Croatia sympathisers, are in positions of power and government. And then Croatia has some loud Jews such as Ognjen Kraus, president of Jewish community Zagreb, a former communist and today’s mental communist, who appears to be a special breed of Jew (perhaps even a pretend Jew), something like Greif may be – don’t touch Yugoslavia/Serbia just bash against Croatia! One thing is crystal clear: Ognjen Kraus to my knowledge, and it is quite large, has never ever publicly commented on or disputed the wild exaggerations of victims in Jasenovac, nor has he requested that the truth be established for all concentration camps in former WWII Yugoslavia. This would, I hold, be an absolute necessity were one truly concerned about all victims of the Holocaust. Ognjen Kraus, like many other Jewish public personalities, appear to use the Holocaust as a political tool for their personal advancement and not for asserting historical truth. It suits the communist political agenda to defend the murderous communist Yugoslavia and Serbia not to address WWII Yugoslavia as a whole but just focus on Croatia and keep churning scandalous lies and wild estimates rather than factual numbers of victims. Ognjen Kraus has been and is in that company. To see that Gideon Greif is evidently tugging this line of deceit with them, just as Efraim Zuroff of the Simon Wiesenthal Center does, is quite an eye-opener and, I trust, a motivational boost for those who seek and demand the truth via research of historical facts. Ina Vukic  

Tito’s Pioneers Keep Sharpening Their Axes Of Hate Against Croatia’s Blessed Alojzije Stepinac

A communist narrative in Marie-Janine Calic interview about Croatia’s Blessed Alojzije Stepinac

On 8 December 2020 the widely read Catholic portal from Germany (Katolische.de) published an interview with German historian Marie-Janine Calic, daughter of Croatian-born Eduard Calic (1910-2003) – historian and Yugoslav (read communist) journalist who was a Berlin-based correspondent for a Yugoslav newspaper during WWII, when Croatia itself fought for independence away from Yugoslavia. This fact alone can throw a spotlight on the mental aura Marie-Janine Calic was, more likely than not, brought up with and that would include a profound intolerance and bias against any patriotic feelings away from the failed experiment of Yogoslavia (e.g. of Croatian patriotism). The interview was published under the title “Figure of hate: a historian warns of Cardinal Stepinac’s canonisation” ( Hassfigur: Historikerin warnt vor Heiligsprechung Kardinal Stepinacs” ). Blessed Alojzije Stepinac’s canonisation by the Vatican (Pope Francis) has been thwarted by political twists, lies and biases of the Serbian Orthodox Church and former communists. My recent open letter to Pope Francis delves into some of the issues pertaining to this.

This is the same Marie-Janine Calic who in her 2014 book “A History of Yugoslavia” strongly rejects the fact that Yugoslavia was an artificial state and still attempts to present the ludicrous idea that a common Yugoslavia made of the states was conceived in the mid-19th century as an attempt by elites to overcome underdevelopment in that region, secure progress and assert the right to self-determination for their people! Facts of history have proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Serb domination and oppression, whether in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia (that disintegrated at dawn of WWII) or the post-WWII Yugoslavia (that disintegrated in 1990/1991), suffocated the self-determination of their peoples Calic is shamelessly bandying around in this interview. The only self-determination right during the hundred years Calic is talking about was usurped by Serbs and Serbs alone, oppressing all other nations (Croat, Slovene, Bosnian, Macedonian) within that forced concoction of united Yugoslavia, which saw or represented not even the “u” in the true meaning unity; it was a forced union maintained either by the Serb Monarchy’s dictatorship or the Tito communist one.  

It seems to me that with this interview for the Catholics of Germany portal Calic is working in concert with those from the Serbian Orthodox Church and with former communist “dignitaries” to hammer in yet another nail into Blessed Alojzije Stepinac (who died at the brutal hands of Yugoslav communist regime) canonisation coffin. Why else would she in the interview call him a “figure of hate” and call his beatification by Pope John Paull II in 1998 controversial! It seems to me that if she has never been a Communist Party operative, a Yugoslav thug, she certainly demonstrates its modus operandi on quests of assassinating characters of decent people, with omitted and/or twisted details and half-truths. She fails to clarify in her interview that the only people who “hate” Stepinac are and were the former Yugoslav communists and the Serbian Orthodox Church, to multitudes of others he was a figure of human compassion and love, a saviour and rescuer to the endangered in WWII. We have the historical facts on that presented in research of New York based dr Esther Gitman and the writings of British dr Robin Harris, among others, as irrefutable evidence of that, not the claptrap promulgated by Calic, an evident stalwart of Serbia’s eternal lies and fabrications against Blessed Stepinac and WWII Croatia.

In the above interview Calic is asked: “In a biography published in 2017, lawyer Claudia Stahl writes that Stepinac supported those in need and persecuted?” Calic responded: “He occasionally led a campaign to save Jews, baptised as Catholics, especially children. But he never raised his voice against the planned extermination of Jews and other ethnic groups. He also never publicly distanced himself from the Ustasha regime.”

“Would that do any good?”, the question followed. Calic replied: “Stepinac was the Archbishop of Zagreb, chairman of the Bishops’ Conference and was in charge of the entire Catholic military pastoral care. As the highest representative of the Church in Croatia, he could at least stop the systematic persecution of Serbs by members of the Catholic Church.”

I find it sickening that Calic in this interview generally talks about persecution of Serbs and Jews in Croatia during WWII and fails to mention, in the same breath, that Serbian Orthodox Church and Serbia’s WWII Milan Nedic government were utter persecutors and exterminators of the Jews – historical facts are that by May 1942 Serbia had exterminated 94% of its Jews and boasted of becoming one of the first European states to be “Free of Jews” (Judenfrei)!  

How twisted and full of hate against Croats would one need to be to come up with such a reply as Calic did above! She completely ignores the realities of WWII and especially the fact that Serbs persecuted and murdered Croatians by thousands upon thousands and Stepinac still did all in his power to save as many Serbs as possible, even though most deserved persecution for their previous crimes and oppression, if we’re to be frank on a human motives’ levels. She completely ignores the historical findings of past twenty years that show and demonstrate the good deeds of Cardinal Stepinac towards Jews, Serbs, Roma – towards anyone faced with life-danger amidst the WWII political brutal divisions and animosities from all sides. Calic completely bypasses and ignores or underplays the public truth about Blessed Stepinac, published by historians and I will only present a small part here.

In 1934, Pius XI named Stepinac as coadjutor to Bauer. Not long after being made a bishop, as early as 1936, Stepinac knew of the threat facing the Jewish people in Europe and sought to raise funds to help those who were fleeing Nazi Germany and Austria.

He appealed to wealthy Croatian Catholics for their help: “Dear Sir, due to violent and inhumane persecution, a large number of people have had to leave their homeland. Left without means for a normal life, they wander throughout the world…Every day, a large number of emigrants contact us asking for intervention…It is our Christian duty to help them…I am free to address you, as a member of our Church, to ask for support for our fund in favour of emigrants. I ask you to write your free monthly allotment on the enclosed leaflet,” he wrote to them.

In an address to students in 1938, Stepinac condemned the racist ideologies of the Third Reich: “Love toward one’s nation cannot turn a man into a wild animal, which destroys everything and calls for reprisal, but it must ennoble him, so that his own nation secures respect and love of other nations.”

In 1939, he launched another fundraising campaign to help Jews and other persecuted migrants fleeing their countries because of the war, again emphasizing the Christian’s duty to help those in need regardless of their race or creed.

War officially came to the Kingdom of Yugoslavia (which was comprised of modern-day Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, and Slovenia) on April 6, 1941, when German forces invaded the region.

Stepinac, as head of the Catholic Church in the majority-Catholic Croatia that had declared itself an independent state in April 1941 as the Serb-led Kingdom of Yugoslavia fell apart, had the difficult task of opposing the racial laws that were brought into practice in Croatia (as they were brought about in Serbia also).

Stepinac organised hiding places for an unknown number of Jews using Croatian Catholic connections he had throughout the country or raised funds to help them escape to a safer place. When Stepinac’s own life was in danger, he warned all those that he had helped hide, and told them to find a different hiding place so that they would not be found out.

Stepinac also told his priests in no uncertain terms that they were to accept any requests from people who wanted to convert to the Catholic Church in order to try to save their lives – whether they were Jewish, Serbian, Gypsies, or other persecuted groups.

Based on dr Esther Gitman’s research into historical documents she found that Stepinac had a policy he passed on as instruction to all priests in Croatia: when a priest is approached by a Jew or a Serb whose life is in danger and they wished to convert, convert them, because the Christian duty is in the first place to save lives.

“When you are visited by people of the Jewish or Eastern Orthodox faith, whose lives are in danger and who express the wish to convert to Catholicism, accept them in order to save human lives. Do not require any special religious knowledge from them, because the Eastern Orthodox are Christians like us, and the Jewish faith is the faith from which Christianity draws its roots. The role and duty of Christians is in the first place to save people. When this time of madness and savagery has passed, those who would convert out of conviction will remain in our church, while others, after the danger passes, will return to their church,” read a note from Alojzije Stepinac distributed to parishes in Croatia during the war.

In the interview Calic claims that 250,000 Orthodox Serbs were converted to Catholicism in WWII Croatia! She provides no verifiable source for her claim, and journalist interviewing her does not ask for one (!) and we are tempted with good reason to conclude that she made it up, just like communists and Serbs have been making up stories and numbers of others’ victims for decades! This communist Josip Broz Tito of Yugoslavia lover, Calic, does not even bother in this interview mentioning that Tito mounted a persecutory court process (a show trial) against Stepinac in 1946, charging him with Nazi-collaboration and denying him any right of defence, conveying of life sentence by house arrest where he died a harsh death in 1960. It was only after Stepinac rejected Tito’s proposal and insistence to take the Catholic Church in Croatia away from Rome, to abandon Roman Catholic Church and establish Croatian Catholic Church that Stepinac was charged, tried and convicted of treason by Tito’s communist Yugoslavia! Calic in her above interview even tries to justify the staged process against Stepinac by saying that the process “also involved dealing with mass crimes in which the representatives of the Catholic Church took part.” What an appalling and tendentious claim by Calic! Reading it one could easily conclude that the Catholic bishops in Croatia carried out mass murders of people and that Cardinal Stepinac was their leader.

Outrageous!

Calic’s presentation of Blessed Alojzije Stepinac in this interview as a “figure of hate” goes in the same direction as similar bashings against Stepinac by the Serbian Orthodox Church that have persisted since WWII. This is evidently another attempt to damage a representative of the Croatian Church, which was so strongly persecuted by the Communists in the media. Furthermore, with this interview, Calic appears to have hopped onto the Serbian wagon of continued persecution of Blessed Alojzije Stepinac to perhaps remind the German nation of its own dark WWII past and thus get them on the side like hers, which hates Stepinac. If they didn’t hate him they would need to take a look at themselves and admit to Serbia’s sins and genocidal past!

How dare she call Stepinac a Nazi sympathiser in a country that is still trying to forget its Nazi past! Furthermore, why is the German Catholic portal (Katolische.de) publishing such defamation and persecution of Blessed Alojzije Stepinac when other worldly renowned Catholic newspapers and portals such as the Catholic Weekly (Australia and USA), Catholic News Agency, etc. have been publishing research findings about Stepinac’s deeds of numerous rescues of Jews and other endangered groups during and before WWII for at least a decade!

If you want to remind yourself of, or learn about communist narratives simply visit the katolische.de interview with Marie-Janine Calic dated 8 December 2020 and all will be crystal clear to you.

And if you want to visit a place of absolute truth about the works and good deeds of Blessed Alojzije Stepinac during WWII, in particular, read the book by the American author, a Holocaust survivor from Sarajevo, dr. Esther Gitman, “Stepinac: A Pillar of Human Rights” or “When Courage Prevailed: The Rescue and Survival of Jews in the Independent State of Croatia 1941–1945” or the book by British author dr Robin Harris: “Stepinac: His Life and Times”, or Zvonimir Gavranovic’s books “In Search of Cardinal Stepinac”, among multitudes of other most credible works about Stepinac. Ina Vukic

Spokes In The Wheel For Truth For Croatian Alojzije Stepinac

Poster for documantary film: Stepinac – Cardinal and his Conscience

On the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the death of Blessed Cardinal Alojzije Stepinac, the Croatian Catholic University and Interfilm held at the Croatian National Theatre in Zagreb on Saturday, February 8, the premiere of the new documentary film “Stepinac: The Cardinal and His Conscience”, authored by Croatia’s acclaimed writer, journalist, screenplay writer and its director Visnja Staresina.

Reportedly, Staresina has been preparing for the film for ten years. Her aim is said to have been to avoid the way Cardinal Stepinac has so far been portrayed through the Croatian-Serbian disagreements, in which the Serbian propaganda machine had constantly insisted on painting Cardinal Stepinac as a Ustashe collaborator despite the fact that post-2000 historical research, when Yugoslav Archives were open to researchers in Croatia, prove beyond any doubt that Stepinac in fact rescued many persecuted Jews. Of particular note are most thorough historical research findings by USA historian dr. Esther Gitman.

“When I started working on the film, I was surprised at the way in which Alojzije Stepinac was perceived out there. For example, my reference was the American media out there, and I tried to make sure that the participants in the film are the people who are not part of this existing paradigm,” said Staresina last week.

In this new documentary, Stepinac’s involvement in rescuing Jews during WWII is enveloped in the story of Renata, a girl whose entire family disappeared in the Holocaust during WWWII in Croatia. She emigrated to Israel in 1952 and decided to forget everything. The film reconstructs and follows the rescue of Renata Bauer.

In this documentary film “I let him (Stepinac) speak through his sermons, through his letters, through his spiritual testament, where you see him condemning racism since 1937, not 1942 or ’43. New York Times, articles published by the Jewish News Agency in 1943, which mention sermons from the Archbishop of Zagreb. It wasn’t very simple to say these things at the time, and it wasn’t easy to become news in the New York Times,” Staresina comments on her film.

This documentary film has been translated into English so that it can reach more people throughout the world, and the aim of its author is to get as many people as possible to know the truth about Cardinal Stepinac.

Croatian National Theatre Zagreb
Premiere of film “Stepinac – Cardinal and his Conscience”
Photo: Pixsell

Among other things, the film “Stepinac: Cardinal and His Conscience” reveals how Stepinac, as a human being, a man and Archbishop of Zagreb, faced and dealt with the greatest challenges of the 20th century. For Alojzije Stepinac that challenge was, undoubtedly, how to execute good deeds and save as many persecuted people from sure death as possible. This indeed was no easy task in the madness of a vicious war where the fight for independence (of Croatia) and the fight against that independence (to retain Yugoslav federation of states) took the nation into often dark pursuits for victory (as all wars do), regardless of whose that victory may surface as the outcome of the war. The film delves into the challenge of talking about the global and universal significance of Stepinac’s work; it explores the reasons why his character and the works that accompany him are not globally accepted and grounded on the truth to this day.

Apart from emphasising the relevance of Stepinac’s exemplary actions and morality, which contain messages that are applicable universally to this day, this documentary film, filled with Stepinac’s courageous and righteous actions despite fatal adversities, fits so aptly into the story of Croatia within the 20th century Europe.

Stepinac’s personal involvement in organising the rescue of Jews during WWII Croatia is presented in this documentary film through interviews with historians, researchers, as well as through personal testimonies of Holocaust survivors and their descendants; likewise, through testimonies of descendants of families who participated in these WWII rescue operations.

At the film’s premiere, its director and screenwriter Visnja Staresina stated that her guiding idea was to make a film that would show why Stepinac was globally relevant in his time, not just at Croatian local levels. “From the moment he was elected the youngest bishop in the world, through his anti-racist sermons reaching out from conquered Europe, from the Independent State of Croatia to the free world as a rarity, through the trials that made him globally known and the condemnation of the trials that provoked major protests from New York to Chicago and Dublin seeking his release. Finally, at the time of his death, leading commentators wondered what would happen between the Church and the communist regimes now,” said Staresina.

Cardinal Josip Bozanic (C) dr Zeljko Tanjic (R)
Photo: Pixsell

The Catholic University of Croatia in Zagreb joined this documentary film project primarily because Blessed Cardinal Stepinac, in addition to being an important church and historical figure, is also the patron saint of that University. Since its founding in 2006 the University has been involved in various ways with view to making the truth about blessed Stepinac known worldwide. Many public lectures have been given about him, students had opportunities to study the character and work of Blessed Stepinac through elective subjects, and professors participated in various conferences and scientific conferences. The Croatian Catholic University, together with the Archdiocese of Zagreb in 2016, organised a scientific conference attended by historians from Croatia and Serbia, and a large collection of papers on the Blessed Archbishop Stepinac and the Serbs in Croatia in the Context of World War II and Post-War was published. Together with the publishing house Christian Contemporaneity (Kršćanska sadašnjost), the University also published a book by Dr. Esther Gitman, “Alojzije Stepinac – Pillar of human rights” (2019).

“We are convinced that with the image, the word and the new testimonies presented in this film about blessed Alojzije will once again show the greatness of a man who, in the difficult years of Croatian and European history, was faithful to his call, resolutely and courageously, advocating especially for the endangered, led the Zagreb Church. To those who had not met him the film will give the opportunity to do so and encourage them to reflect upon his person. And also, for those who disagree with us the film gives the opportunity to evaluate his work and gives another documented insight into his life and work,” said at the premiere the Croatian Catholic University Rector Dr. Zeljko Tanjic.

Visnja Staresina (C) Esther Gitman (CR)
at the premiere of film: Stepinac – Cardinal and his Conscience
Photo: ika.hkm.hr

The wheels of justice turn slowly, but grind exceedingly fine. Have you ever heard that quote? It’s actually a paraphrase of an ancient Greek proverb. The Greek biographer Plutarch referred to this proverb in the first century A.D. when he made the following complaint. He said: “Thus, I do not see what use there is in those mills of the gods said to grind so late as to render punishment hard to be recognised, and to make wickedness fearless.”

One of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow‘s translations was a 17th century poem, ‘Retribution,’ by Friedrich Von Logau: “Though the mills of God grind slowly, yet they grind exceeding small; Though with patience he stands waiting, with exactness grinds he all.”

The analogy I venture to bring here is related to the fact that even though ample evidence of Alojzije Stepinac’s good deeds in rescuing Jews and other persecuted people during WWII those to whose advantage it is to continue suppressing this truth and continue promoting the Serb-led (or communist Yugoslavia-led) fabrications about his collaboration with the Nazi’s are not likely to abandon their wicked ways any time soon. Why? Well, to bring out the obvious, it is of political advantage to them to continue walking in dark corridors where truth has no chance of being illuminated. And so, regretfully, instead of turning in the right direction, the wheels of justice for blessed Alojzije Stepinac on the international level have mainly been turning in the other direction, grinding out stones that become even coarser. That has sadly been the power of politics and political interests.

The problem is that political interference which has had a devastating effect on the truth ever since the trumped-up charges against Stepinac by Yugoslavia’s communist regime in 1945 continues in many ways. The communist Yugoslavia totalitarian regime ensured that the willingness and ability to investigate injustice and corruption that would show the communists up as liars and falsifiers of history was suffocated and incapacitated. This went on until 1990’s when Croatia broke away from Yugoslavia and only since then were all researchers able to access the archives and the truth. But even when a significant mass of that truth was found to not resemble the truth communists were peddling for decades, that illuminated real truth continued to be treated with some scepticism and avoidance by even the politicians in power in Croatia, majority of whom belonged to the communist echelons of former Yugoslavia! Such cold and apparently dismissive reception of the truth, which in fact redeems Alojzije Stepinac from all the communist trumped-up charges, from all the false accusations regarding his deeds or “omissions” during WWII, is in fact part and parcel of what still goes on in Croatia: corruption and fraud perpetrated by well-connected politicians and by their allies and like-minded persons in the country and outside it. If it weren’t like that, then even common sense tells us that the Croatian government would have long ago stood behind the clearing of Stepinac’s name through research and presentation of findings and opened up its “wallet” to support such projects. It has not done that and the presentation of truth that is of national importance (because the brush that tarnished Stepinac also tarnished the freedom-loving Croatian people) still remains within the realms of good will of people and institutions willing to back such projects financially.

Cardinal Alojzije Stepinac (inset photo of Zeljko Tanjic)
Photo: Screenshot Croatian TV

This is why this documentary film by Visnja Staresina (2020), why books by Esther Gitman (“When Courage Prevailed The Rescue and Survival of Jews in the Independent State of Croatia 1941-1945”;  “Alojzije Stepinac – Pillar of Human Rights”) and dr. Robin Harris (“Stepinac: His Life and Times”), the documentary film “When Truth Prevails” authored by Jadranka Juresko-Kero (2011) and other many works on this subject are crucial spokes on the wheel of justice and truth not only regarding Alojzije Stepinac but also regarding Croatia during WWII and after. The wheel of justice turns in the right direction by the force of these spokes despite the political sabotage of the truth. Ina Vukic

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Disclaimer, Terms and Conditions:

All content on “Croatia, the War, and the Future” blog is for informational purposes only. “Croatia, the War, and the Future” blog is not responsible for and expressly disclaims all liability for the interpretations and subsequent reactions of visitors or commenters either to this site or its associate Twitter account, @IVukic or its Facebook account. Comments on this website are the sole responsibility of their writers and the writer will take full responsibility, liability, and blame for any libel or litigation that results from something written in or as a direct result of something written in a comment. The nature of information provided on this website may be transitional and, therefore, accuracy, completeness, veracity, honesty, exactitude, factuality and politeness of comments are not guaranteed. This blog may contain hypertext links to other websites or webpages. “Croatia, the War, and the Future” does not control or guarantee the accuracy, relevance, timeliness or completeness of information on any other website or webpage. We do not endorse or accept any responsibility for any views expressed or products or services offered on outside sites, or the organisations sponsoring those sites, or the safety of linking to those sites. Comment Policy: Everyone is welcome and encouraged to voice their opinion regardless of identity, politics, ideology, religion or agreement with the subject in posts or other commentators. Personal or other criticism is acceptable as long as it is justified by facts, arguments or discussions of key issues. Comments that include profanity, offensive language and insults will be moderated.
%d bloggers like this: