Croatia: Rescue and Survival of Jews – World War II

Dr Esther Gitman

Dr Esther Gitman

New review of Esther Gitman‘s book “When Courage Prevailed :The Rescue and Survival of Jews in the Independent State of Croatia by Esther Gitman (Paragon House, ISBN 978-1-55778-894-8) by Mishka Gora

“No one likes to admit they have been duped, so it is no surprise that we have not seen headlines declaring that the history of Eastern Europe as we know it is largely based on Communist propaganda.  What is disquieting, however, is that there hasn’t been a rush by historians to delve into the hitherto closed archives and set the record straight.  Indeed, one of the areas that has remained largely unexamined, despite the popularity of Holocaust literature, is the rescue and survival of Jews during World War II.  Bucking this trend is Esther Gitman, whose book When Courage Prevailed details the extraordinary efforts of non-Jews to save Jews, often at great risk to their own lives, under the puppet regime of the Independent State of Croatia (which territorially also included Bosnia and Hercegovina)…”

“The most eye-opening chapter of When Courage Prevailed is perhaps the one about the Catholic Church and the Zagreb Archbishop Alojzije Stepinac who was subsequently convicted by the Communists for assisting the Ustaše in a highly political trial.  Gitman analyses diplomatic correspondence, Stepinac’s letters and “inspirational” sermons, and his interaction with both the Ustaša government and the Jewish community to argue compellingly that Stepinac “found himself between a rock and a hard place” but despite this was “outspoken” against the Ustaše and Nazis.  He also personally intervened to secure the survival of many Jews, some of whom he even gave sanctuary on church property.  Interestingly, the Chief Rabbi of Zagreb declined Stepinac’s offer of sanctuary so that he could remain with his people, but he did entrust his entire library to the Archbishop’s safekeeping and it was duly returned to the Jewish community in its entirety after the war”.

Mishka Gora’s complete review of  Esther Gitman’s book can be found at Online Opinion website or on Eyes of the Mind

Please click the book cover image on the left sidebar of this webpage (Croatia, the War, and the Future) for book purchase link.

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