Prickly Croatia – Israel Relations: Aloysius Stepinac’s List Was Longer Than Schindler’s!

 

Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic at Yad Vashem/ Israel with Branko Lustig (in hat)  Photo: Office of President, RH

Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic
at Yad Vashem/ Israel with
Branko Lustig (in hat)
Photo: Office of President, RH

For reasons many cannot understand, even if their bias against Croatia is profound, Israel’s political establishment had in 1997 taken an anti Croatia, anti-Franjo Tudjman stand. Indeed, Israel had then pronounced Franjo Tudjman a “persona non grata” in Israel because, it was reported, Tudjman had in his books underestimated the number of Jews that perished in the Holocaust! Indeed, Tudjman was labelled by various Jewish organisations across the world as Holocaust denier and anti-Semitic because of the numbers he estimated perished in the Holocaust. Overestimates or possible overestimates of number of Jews that perished in the Holocaust had never, so many decades after the fact of the Holocaust, to my knowledge, set in motion such hateful and drastic measures on the level of state relations!

After Franjo Tudjman’s death in 1999 all three Presidents of Croatia had officially visited Israel, apologising for the crimes of the Holocaust that occurred during WWII in Croatia. Apologies, of course, are always the right thing to do as they contain, or should contain, the spirit of regret and compassion and, hopefully, determination that things apologised for shall never reoccur. Presidents Stjepan Mesic (2000-2010) and Ivo Josipovic (2011-2015) are both of hard-core communist extraction and had, as expected, molded their apologies for the Holocaust while in Israel in such a way to openly suggest that fascist or Nazi supporters were still active or “mysteriously in ghost-like fashion coming out of the woodwork” in Croatia – still.  “Apologies” of this nature are nothing more than attempts, on false but politically potent grounds, to cover up communist crimes committed in Croatia during and after WWII. Many Croatia’s “leading” Jews had, particularly since 1991, followed the same line because I dare say, most were and are communists of former Yugoslavia.

It is of great importance to note that no president of Croatia has so far, it seems, “lobbied” to Israel regarding the factual research findings by Dr Esther Gitman about the significant work of Croatia’s Cardinal Aloysius Stepinac, beatified and in line to be canonised a Saint of the Catholic Church.

Blessed Alojzije (Aloysius) Stepinac Oil painting Croatian Church Chicago

Blessed Alojzije (Aloysius) Stepinac
Oil painting Croatian Church Chicago

It is certainly not far fetched, by a long shot, to conclude that Croatian pro-communist Jewish and Serb lobby would not want Cardinal Aloysius Stepinac vindicated by indisputable facts which point to the overwhelming lies and false grounds upon which communists persecuted him as Nazi-collaborator immediately after WWII. Former communist operatives and influential persons within the Yugoslav Communist Party between WWII and 1991 have too much face to lose were the truth to be accepted as truth. No matter, the truth still stands and its enemies are identified in this case. The battles for truth and recognition of it may, hence, be easier than before.

Modern Croatia is not a successor to the World War II independent state of Croatia and its ideologies,” Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic told i24news, in an exclusive interview at the end of a two-day visit to Israel, 24 July 2015. Kitarovic, who during her visit participated in a Yad Vashem ceremony in which Croatian-American producer Branko Lustig donated his “Schindler’s List” Oscar to the Holocaust memorial, brushed off any connection to what she calls “a dark period in our history that casts a shadow on Croatia’s past.”

I find it regretful that there seems to have been no opportunity during this visit to refer to Blessed Aloysius Stepinac while at Yad Vashem or elsewhere in Israel. Cardinal Aloysius Stepinac had his own “Shindler’s list” and saved thousands upon thousands of Jews during WWII Croatia! After access to historical documents/archives had been possible at the fall of communist Yugoslavia his “list” is found to have been much longer than Schindler’s! His list was longer than Schindler’s and yet state politics keep this truth hidden or are not inclined to talk about it publicly!

 

A book by Esther Gitman

A book by Esther Gitman

Part of Croatia’s World War II history, the collaboration with the Nazis has been a prickly issue in diplomatic relations with Israel, which were established in 1997. Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic has, on this occasion of visiting Israel, maintained the stance of her predecessors Mesic and Josipovic, and “focuses on building relations with Israel today and is strongly committed to the victims and survivors in order to prevent future atrocities”. “There is no connection today between the Nazi ideology and modern Croatia,” Grabar-Kitarovic said, and vowed that she feels “no resentment” from her Israeli counterparts, reports i24 news.
In addition to the Ustashi regime, which was a collaborationist Nazi regime, there was comparably one of the biggest anti fascist uprising resistance movements in Croatia,” Grabar-Kitarovic said, mentioning that members of her own family participated in this movement. “These people who fought fascism and Nazism put Croatia on the right side of history, and what is embedded in our constitution today is our anti-fascist and anti-Nazi roots and the Homeland War that we fought back in the 90s in order to liberate Croatia from aggression and occupation,” Grabar-Kitarovic said in Israel last week.
I use this opportunity to condemn every totalitarian regime – Nazism, Fascism, Communism,” said President Grabar-Kitarovic at Yad Vashem in Israel, and emphasised education as the strongest weapon against every form of radical ideology, divisions, hatred and racism. “We must tell the truth because we are denuded in this place, we have no and carry none of our official functions. We are here as human beings. As people, as parents, sisters and brothers we have the responsibility to pursue for the truth.”

All what President Grabar-Kitarovic said in Israel last week stands as truth but such plethora of historical references still omit the fact that many, including Cardinal Aloysius Stepinac, are considered as Nazi-collaborators, participants in the Holocaust, when the truth and facts point the other way – the righteous way! So, I often agonise and ponder: why is it so difficult for the Holocaust remembrance environment to accept the truth about Cardinal Aloysius Stepinac’s role in helping and rescuing Jews? An answer that comes to mind is that communists of former Yugoslavia have, on false grounds and utter lies, made Aloysius Stepinac synonymous with the concept and reality of the Holocaust in Croatia and to now accept him for what he truly was – innocent of those charges, would somehow take  a significant part of the heavy gravity away from the act of the Holocaust! So, the Holocaust remembrance environment seems in part to prefer perpetuation of untruths rather than facing the truth. Nothing can take away the heavy gravity the Holocaust carries for human kind – for it was an abomination – but unjust treatment of individuals within this environment, unwillingness to recognise the actual rather than reported or estimated truth, do add to its tragedy for human justice. I do hope that the pursuit of truth of the Holocaust in Croatia will surface with the righteousness of Blessed Aloysius Stepinac: with a proud revelation of a Schindler’s List not even the revered Schindler could match! Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

Croatia: Finally – Tito’s Bust Goes Bust

Josip Broz Tito bust copy

An almost incalculable number of crimes against humanity are the legacy left by Josip Broz Tito, the leader of former totalitarian regime of communist Yugoslavia and yet the sculpture of him in the form of a bust has managed to remain in the main foyer of the Office of the President of Croatia all this time since Croatia succeeded to break away from Yugoslavia, becoming an independent and democratic country, now a member of the EU.

 

 

If we take the transitive verb “bust” as meaning “unusable” then, indeed, the bust sculpture of Tito in the top office of this democratic country simply can no longer be tolerated, nor is it appropriate since Tito’s track-record in planning and encouraging the perpetration of incalculable crimes against innocent people had actually rendered the presence of his bust unusable and inoperable in a system of freedom and democracy and self-determination.
The communists and former communists of Yugoslavia/Croatia have insisted on having Tito’s bust displayed in that prominent place, as is the office of Croatia’s President – arguing that Tito and his WWII endeavours represent the very notion of antifascism upon which independent Croatia was created and built. However, the very truth of the matter is that modern Croatia was created by an overwhelming number of people who rejected communist Yugoslavia as created and maintained by Josip Broz Tito and his followers.
Praiseworthy – one of the first moves made by the new president of Croatia, Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, as she stepped into her role of president was to announce the removal of the bust of Tito from the Office of the President. In this move, Grabar-Kitarovic emphasised that she continues to hold antifascism as an important foundation of Croatian independence and democracy but that Tito was a dictator and, therefore, a sculpture of his image has no place being there. The first president of Croatia, Franjo Tudjman, considered Tito as one the great statesmen in post WWII Europe, however, he also emphasised that Tito was responsible for the widespread communist crimes committed against innocent people under his leadership.
Certainly, the true antifascism many Croats say they subscribe to cannot be associated with Tito’s communism even though this is exactly what they’ve been trying to do and trying to protect ever since Croatia broke away from the former communist Yugoslavia in the early 1990’s. Indeed, by insisting on communism as being equal to antifascism – the last two presidents of Croatia (Stjepan Mesic and Ivo Josipovic) have managed to make Croatia a painfully backward and divisively active country when it comes to facing the ugly truth of Tito’s (Yugoslav) communist totalitarianism. They continue misusing and abusing the term “antifascism” by pinning it to Tito’s communists.

 

 

EU’s condemnation of totalitarian regimes and their crimes simply does not go with having Tito’s bust displayed in the Office of the President of one of its member countries. Furthermore, one must conclude that breaking away from communist Yugoslavia also means placing into history, and not keeping alive in the Office of the President, the symbols of communist Yugoslavia, which is a bust of Tito.
Former president Stjepan Mesic, seeking that Tito’s bust be placed in his “former president’s office”, has expressed his protest against the removal of Tito’s bust from the Office of the President, saying that such a move heralds “not only an accommodation to the rigid right-wing and profascist and neofascist circles in Croatia, but also demonstrates an alarming indication of cramped efforts to erase a part of Croatian history and to remove the memory about the antifascist battle, which is one of the brightest pages in that history…”
But of course, not a word from Stjepan Mesic about the communist crimes perpetrated during his “brightest pages” of Croatian history! This obnoxious political scourge Croatia has been burdened with surely must end. One cannot tolerate accusations of profascism and neofascism, where there are none, even if they are, as in the case of Stjepan Mesic – desperate and last ditch efforts to save Tito and communism from the gallows they deserve. If these are not justified grounds to do away with the office of former president Stjepan Mesic by the same standards as for Ivo Josipovic – i.e. five years after the presidential mandate end, then I do not know what are. Croatia simply cannot tolerate the incessant vilification of its people who were not communists during the life of former Yugoslavia!
The only way unity, to which president Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic fervently aspires, can be achieved is through the truth. It will take the strength of Croatia’s new president – Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic – to separate true antifascism from Tito’s/communist Yugoslavia antifascism. True antifascism cannot and must not be associated with communist crimes of WWII and post-WWII.
So, thumbs up to you and your courage – president Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic!
Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zbg); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

The Sculpturing Of Human Injustice At ICJ Croatia v Serbia Genocide Case

Dr Zvonimir Separovic Photo: Screenshot Z1 TV 6 February 2015

Dr Zvonimir Separovic
Photo: Screenshot Z1 TV 5 February 2015

On 3 February 2015 the United Nations International Court of Justice (ICJ) delivered the verdict in the landmark case «Croatia vs. Serbia».

The ICJ decided that neither Croatia nor Serbia committed genocide against each other during the war of Serb aggression against Croatia 1991-1995 as evidence provided to the court by the Croatian (and Serbian) legal team was inadequate to prove intent of genocide, i.e. to destroy the whole or a significant part of a nation/people. Furthermore, the court decided that Serbia could not be made responsible for the acts of genocide established as fact which occurred prior to April 1992, when Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY – Serbia and Montenegro) arose from Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY). After the declarations of Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Macedonia to secede from communist Yugoslavia, Serbia and Montenegro were the only states of former Yugoslav federation that took upon themselves the pursuit as “heirs” of communist Yugoslavia, thus maintaining the Yugoslav People’s Army as one of its instruments of aggression. The other instrument of this aggression and genocidal intent were the Serb nationals who lived in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina and turned into rebels against independence that would see untold brutality and destruction in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. The ICJ did find that Serbia was the aggressor against Croatia.

With mountains of evidence available to the Croatian legal team to bring before the ICJ as evidence of genocide the fact that the same team failed to bring adequate evidence before the court can only point to abysmal sabotage and fowl political play that seeks to equate the aggressor with the victim.

Croatian legal team obviously provided no serious evidence to substantiate the claim that there was intent to commit genocide on its territory, in particular by Serbia, even though acts of genocide were committed and were widespread. When a legal team whose duty it is to provide evidence that substantiates claims in court fails to choose the proving evidence to present to the court from the mountain of evidence available then you know that sabotage is afoot.

The International Court took into consideration all the evidence related to each point of the definition of genocide and ruled that there was no evidence to support the claim. How just is the ruling? The only “justness” would seem to arise from the fact that such a ruling was sculptured in advance of the trial, which would utilise political manoeuvring in changing the name of the defendant – from FRY to Serbia – thus ensuring Serbia a ground to argue that it, as a state, was not responsible, not a subscriber to the UN Genocide Convention, to any acts of genocide perpetrated between 1991 and April 1992 (and this was the time when both the intent and the ferocity of acts of genocide were committed systematically in Croatia by the Serbia/Montenegro led FRY, which controlled the Yugoslav People’s Army of former Yugoslavia). Also, by ensuring that evidence presented by the Croatian side in court was both lacking and often unacceptable (e.g. unsigned affidavits or statements!).

According to the United Nations International Court of Justice, the acts of genocide established in the court all happened without special intent of genocide!

The more powerful International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) had already established a lot of facts of Serb aggression, which included numerous and systematically perpetrated criminal acts of genocide and ethnic cleansing of Croats and other non-Serbs. At present the ICTY is considering the case of Goran Hadzic, former president of the so-called «Republic of Serbian Krajina /Republika Srpska Krajina» («RSK») in Croatia where a great deal of the acts of genocide were committed against Croats and Croatia prior to April 1992. Milan Martic, another former president of the unrecognized Republic of Serbia Krajina, is serving a 35-year sentence according to the Tribunal’s ruling. Milan Babic, the third president of the Republic of Serbian Krajina, admitted guilt and made a plea bargain with the prosecution. He testified against his former associates and the Serbia’s leadership. Babic was found hanged in the prison cell in 2006, an apparent murder. The fact that he killed himself was supported by evidence.

It seems that a great deal of effort was applied by the so called international justice to come up with a new version of events that took place during the former Yugoslavia conflict to let anybody meddle in and change the story. But this effort was evidently propped up by certain Croatians who held high positions soon after the death of Croatian first president Franjo Tudjman in 1999 and these were the Croatians most of whom stood by communist Yugoslavia and did not want an independent Croatia in the first place.

In support of Serbia’s counterclaim, the court heard that there was no Serbia as a separate state at the time (1991-April 1992) as it was part of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY), which was later transitioned into Serbia and Montenegro.

The Court never explained why all of a sudden Serbia became a defendant in that case which was originally filed against FRY and Croatia’s legal team failed to adequately argue similarities between the two, i.e. in essence, inseparable legal entities when it comes to the people responsible for crimes committed.

On 5 February 2015, Zagreb1 television program “Veterans Today” interviewed prof. dr. Zvonimir Separovic, who was the justice minister in Croatia at the time the original lawsuit for genocide against FRY was filed with the ICJ in 1999. Dr. Separovic compiled the genocide claim with the aid of David Rivkin, a leading US attorney. Dr Separovic stated that the Claim had then been changed starting with Ivica Racan’s social democrats government (former League of Communists) and subsequently changed even more to suit Serbia – he points the finger at Stjepan Ivanisevic (Racan’s justice minister), Ivan Simonovic (Racan’s deputy foreign minister) Ivan and Ivo Josipovic (former social democrat/League of Communists, attorney and current outgoing president of Croatia). This team, along with their political partners had changed the original Claim filed by Croatia in 1999. They removed FRY as the defendant i.e. removed Montenegro from the equation (even though quite a number of Montenegrin officers and soldiers served in the Yugoslav People’s Army at the time of aggression against Croatia) and inserted Serbia alone.

Not only that, this team of legal professionals had removed the Second pleading from the original Claim, which dr Separovic says had in it that Serbia ordered the withdrawal of some 100,000 Serb nationals from Croatia, after the acts of genocide against Croats had been committed and the removal of this point from Croatia’s original Claim was, according to dr Separovic, done with view to enabling Serbia to mount a counterclaim in which it (wrongfully) said some 200,000 of Serbs were forcibly deported from Croatia in 1995.
A book/memoir written by Radivoj Cvjeticanin (“Zagreb Indoors”), a former Serbia’s ambassador to Croatia, from page 231 reportedly talks about meetings with Ivan Simonovic and Ivo Josipovic which point to the Croatian players seeking advice and instructions from Serbia as to how to approach and what to say at the international court of justice – how to best relativise the Claim to aid Serbia!

 

There’s only ten days left of Ivo Josipovic’s presidency in Croatia and he is contemplating his future career, including returning to his previous position as law professor at University Of Zagreb. This would seem a most opportune time to commence lustration in Croatia and prevent any such person as is Josipovic taking up an important seat in the country’s education system, or any other system for that matter. The disloyalty to Croatia evidenced in the above is scandalous and unacceptable. One must ask: how can a law professional (Ivo Josipovic) who has evidently been heavily involved in sculpturing the human injustice that came out of the ICJ judgment (through adverse changes to original lawsuit Claim and through biased and inadequate selection of evidential material to be presented to the court as evidence) be permitted to represent Croatia in any official capacity at all? Surely, this cannot be permitted.

And so what of the ICJ decision in the case of genocide Croatia v Serbia? There’s no appeal to it. The only things left are for Croatia to continue prosecuting individual war crimes suspects, to remove the impunity for war crimes or suspected war crimes given to thousands of Serbs, to pursue rigorously the destiny of the many war victims still recorded as missing and for researchers and historians and lawyers, who have no need to use political compromises, to keep addressing the facts and justice for the victims. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb), B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

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