What is the Holocaust memory in Serbia: suffering of Jews in Serbia or in Croatia?

This letter had recently been offered for publication in The Times of Israel, but the editors decided not to publish it. However, it asks a relevant question (in the title) and offers several links to important articles which may be unknown to the readers interested in the subject of Serbian misuse of the Holocaust. So, we offer them here.

The letter

On July 12, 2021, in The Blogs section of The Times of Israel, Mr. Ronen Shnidman reported from the Belgrade meeting of remembrance of the last survivors of the WWII Jasenovac camp in Croatia. The report is entitled “Serbia’s Holocaust memory and the ties that bind us” (https://blogs.timesofisrael.com/serbias-holocaust-memory-and-the-ties-that-bind-us/). After reading the report I wondered what the “memory of Holocaust” in Serbia should have been: suffering of Jews in Serbia or in Croatia? Are the Serbs who perished in Jasenovac (Croatia) a part of the Holocaust victims, and if they are, are Croats and Roma also victims, as well as Poles and all other non-Jewish nations who perished in other concentration camps during the WW II? To answer these questions would perhaps be inappropriate from me as I am a Croat born after the WW II, and my ancestors had neither participated in the war nor perished in it, but Mr. Shnidman’s report indeed elicits several questions.

Starting “lightly”, Shnidman reports on the speech of Ms. Danijela Danon „Danon is the granddaughter of the Jasenovac victim Rabbi Daniel Isak Danon and delivered a speech at the Jasenovac Martyrs event held at the Serbian Academy of the Sciences and Arts.” If the family of Ms. Danon was from Serbia, how had Rabbi Danon ended up in Jasenovac, another state and hundreds of kilometers away? If they lived in Zagreb, capital of Croatia, how come that Ms. Danijela lives in Belgrade and talks – to the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts? Why didn’t she, or anybody else at the meeting, remember the letter that Philip J. Cohen, the American publicist of Jewish origin and former advisor to the UN in Bosnia and Hercegovina, addressed to rabbi Abraham Cooper at the Simon Wiesenthal Centre on February 27th, 1992, in which Cohen pointed out that antisemitism has been deeply ingrained into Serb history. He also unmasked the propaganda of ‘Greater Serbia’, which at the start of the nineties accused Croatia of fascism and antisemitism.

Shnidman wrote: “Some 57 different documented methods of death were employed at Jasenovac. These were used in the killing of hundreds of thousands of ethnic Serbs and tens of thousands of Jews, Roma and Croatian anti-fascists.” However, “the methods of death” have no forensic evidence found so far. The evidence so far found does not point to the claim that, many, „tens of thousands of Jews, Roma and Croatian anti-fascists” have been slaughtered in Jasenovac. Namely, Jasenovac is still a place wrapped in the fog of communist myths and lack of systematic investigation and, as such, a victim to Serbian anti-Croat propaganda.

Disputes apart, there are three things that are true and verifiable:

  1. Three expert forensic investigations done at the sites in Jasenovac by the Yugoslav communist regime in 1964, indicated that allegedly most numerous mass graves contained a total of fewer than 500 skeletons of unknown origin.
  2. The list of Jasenovac victims maintained by the Public Establishment Memorial Park Jasenovac (PEMP Jasenovac, approximately 84,000 names) has been unequivocally proven to have been made up (or fabricated) (https://arxiv.org/pdf/2012.11574.pdf): all lists of victims maintained by United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington were analyzed on the years of birth of listed victims, and only the Jasenovac one came out as statistically impossible.
  3. iii) Yugoslavian censuses before and after WW II reveal that, in comparison to the pre-war data, the post-war number of Croats had decreased, and the number of Serbs increased.

The Museum of Genocide Victims in Belgrade claims almost the same number of victims as PEMP Jasenovac, but the full list has never been either compared or aligned; at the same time, Jasenovac Research Institute in New York speaks about 600,000 Jasenovac victims, and Dr. Gideon Greif (mentioned as an authority in Shnidman’s text) of 700,000. How is it possible to have such great discrepancies in the number of victims?

Recently, Australian analyst Mr. David Goldman published an article in the Jerusalem Post (JP) under the title “This disgraceful mocking of the Holocaust needs to stop immediately” (https://m.jpost.com/opinion/this-disgraceful-mocking-of-the-holocaust-needs-to-stop-now-676707/amp?__twitter_impression=true), saying that Serbia used lies about Jasenovac to position Serb sufferings during WW II under the Holocaust. The acting director of the Museum of Genocide Victims in Belgrade, Mr. Dejan Ristić, sent a protest letter to JP (https://www.jpost.com/opinion/shame-on-those-who-seek-to-revise-history-of-the-holocaust-opinion-676992), and the article by Goldman was withdrawn. Ristić vehemently attacked Goldman as a “revisionist”. The editors did not know, I suppose, that Dr. Ristić at the same time denied genocide committed by Serbian forces in Srebrenica in 1995, and called upon all Serbian scientists to intensify investigations to prove that the Srebrenica massacre (around 8,000 victims) was not a genocide (http://www1.srna.rs/novosti1/922650/ristic-u-srebrenici-nije-bilo-genocida–incko-pocinio-pravno-nasilje.htm).

Serbian strategy of copying the Holocaust of Jews for Serbian WW II victims has been recognized and criticised before Goldman’s JP’s article (which was taken down by the JP a few days after publishing it):

  1. https://haifaholocauststudies.wordpress.com/2017/06/04/holocaust-discourse-as-a-screen-memory-the-serbian-case/; https://haifaholocauststudies.wordpress.com/tag/dr-lea-david/
  2. https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/movies/story/2021-02-04/review-dara-jasenovac-holocaust-drama-serbia
  3. https://variety.com/author/jay-weissberg/
  4. https://forward.com/culture/463544/dara-of-jasenovac-serbian-oscar-controversy-genocide-holocaust-croatia/?gamp&__twitter_impression=true
  5. https://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2021/07/erasing_the_history_of_the_holocaust.html (David Goldman’s article on Serbian strategy to invade the Holocaust with its Jasenovac victims that has not been withdrawn).

Serbian abuse of history has been notified long ago (Christopher Bennett. How the Serbs Abuse History. Wall Street Journal, Eastern edition [New York, N.Y] 7 May 1999: A18.; Philip J. Cohen. Serbia’s Secret War: Propaganda and the Deceit of History. College Station, Texas: Texas A&M University Press; 1996.). This abuse includes (mis)use of the Holocaust, which is outrageous! Philip Cohen rightfully called it desacralization of the Holocaust (Cohen, Philip J. 1993. Desecrating the Holocaust: Serbia’s Exploitation of the Holocaust as Propaganda. Philip J. Cohen.). I am afraid that Shnidman, Ristić and Greif, intentionally or not, support and/or follow that Serbian strategy. Mr. Shnidman’s report in The Times of Israel on Belgrade meeting “Serbia’s Holocaust memory and the ties that bind us” is in line both with abuse of history and desacralization of the Holocaust, in one sentence – “Serbian anti-Semitism, historical revisionism and exploitation of Holocaust as propaganda”, as P.J. Cohen spelled it out in 1992. If anybody would think that this is too harsh a judgement, I would like to see a milder one.

Matko Marušić

Split, Croatia, October 2021

About Matko Marušić: born in Split, Croatia, in 1946; he is Professor Emeritus at the University of Split, Split, Croatia. He was a Professor at Medical Schools (in Zagreb and Split) in courses of Physiology, Immunology, Principles of Research in Medicine, and of Research Methodology at postgraduate programs.He published 190 articles in scientific journals cited in Web of Science (H-index=28) and has around 150 publications including articles in scientific journals, books, book chapters, and a number of polemics and educational texts. He was a president of the Croatian Association of Physiologists, founder and Co-Editor-in-Chief of Croatian Medical Journal (1991-2009), Associate Dean of Zagreb University School of Medicine for School Branches in Osijek and Split, and Dean of the University of Split School of Medicine. He was one of the organisers and leaders of the humanitarian action ‘White Road for Nova Bila and Silver Bosnia’ (1993/94). He published many short stories and a collection of children stories ‘Snijeg u Splitu’ (The Snow in the City of Split) and ‘Plaču li anđeli’ (Do Angels Cry?). He also published the book of essays ‘Živjeti u Župi Radobilji’ (Living in the Radobilja Parish) and humoristic books ‘Škola plivanja’ (Swimming lessons), ‘Medicina iznutra’ (Medicine from Inside), and ‘Life of an Editor’. In 2018 he published his biggest literally work ‘Mi Hrvati’ (We Croats). (Brief biography and photo from University of Split website, October 2021)

Porphyry Should Spread messages of Peace From Serbia Not Croatia

The head of the Serbian Orthodox Church (SOC), Patriarch Porphyry, said a few months ago in Jasenovac that the place should be the foundation from which messages of peace will spread. At the same time he gave a sermon in Jasenovac, Croatia, the site of WWII camp associated with the Holocaust and enormous fabrications of victim numbers to aid communist and Serb propaganda against Croatia.  “Human evil is few where it has shown its ugliest side as in this place.” wider and wider and further “, said Porphyry in a sermon in February 2021 in the church in Jasenovac, the Hina agency reported.

During the past week, 15 September, Patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church Porphyry, led the liturgy in the monastery of St. John the Baptist in Jasenovac, Croatia, after which he said that the faithful of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Jasenovac never gathered to do mathematics, that is, who did more harm than memory, prayer and reverence for the whole the human race and that nothing like it ever happens to anyone again.

Given that WWII Serbia was among the first European countries to declare itself “Jew Free” or “Judenfrei” (May to August 1942) by exterminating some 94% of its Jews, given that it was Serbia that attacked Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina in the early 1990’s and committed acts of genocide in both countries, Porphyry would have done justice to humanity had he said that Belgrade (not Jasenovac in Croatia) should be the places from where messages of peace should be spread. But no, this he will not say because the Serbian Orthodox Church is the guiding “light” on the path to Serbia’s fabrications of history and its denial of its own horrendous crimes on other countries’ territories.

Porphyry’s or Serbian Orthodox Church’s train of intent continues the pathetic and repulsive road of blaming others, particularly Croatia, for all the Holocaust and unlawful killings in Yugoslavia region during WWII and covering up, lying profusely about WWII Serbia, lying profusely about its genocide over Croats and Bosniaks in the 1990’s…. So, given my last couple of posts regarding the “mocking of the Holocaust” and falsification of history it is important to keep in mind and keep telling the world the following part of an editorial published in 1995 “Serbian portrayal of Serbia’s ‘Holocaust Decency’ is historical revisionism”:

Fully six months before the Nazi invasion of Yugoslavia, Serbia had issued legislation restricting Jewish participation in the economy and university enrolment. One year later on 22 October 1941, the rabidly antisemitic ‘Grand Anti-Masonic Exhibit’ opened in occupied Belgrade, funded by the city of Belgrade. The central theme was an alleged Jewish-Communist-Masonic plot for world domination. Newspapers such as Obnova (Renewal) and Naša Borba (Our Struggle) praised this exhibit, proclaiming that Jews were the ancient enemies of the Serbian people and that Serbs should not wait for the Germans to begin the extermination of the Jews. A few months later, Serbian authorities issued postage stamps commemorating the opening of this popular exhibit. These stamps, which juxtaposed Jewish and Serbian symbols, portrayed Judaism as the source of world evil and advocated the humiliation and violent subjugation of Jews.

Anti-Semitic postage stamps in WWII Serbia

Serbia as well as neighbouring Croatia was under Axis occupation during the Second World War. Although the efficient destruction of Serbian Jewry in the first two years of German occupation has been well documented by respected sources, the extent to which Serbia actively collaborated in that destruction has been less recognized.

The Serbian government under General Milan Nedić worked closely with local Nazi officials in making Belgrade the first ‘Judenfrei’ city of Europe. As late as 19 September 1943, Nedić made an official visit to Adolf Hitler, Serbs in Berlin advanced the idea that the Serbs were the ‘Ubermenchen’ (master race) of the Slavs.

Although the Serbian version of history portrays wartime Serbia as a helpless, occupied territory, Serbian newspapers of the period offer a portrait of intensive collaboration. In November 1941, Mihajlo Olčan, a minister in Nedić’s government boasted that ‘Serbia has been allowed what no other occupied country has been allowed and that is to establish law and order with its own armed forces’.

Indeed, with Nazi blessings, Nedić established the Serbian State Guard, numbering about 20,000, compared to the 3,400 German police in Serbia. Recruiting advertisements for the Serb police force specified that ‘applicants must have no Jewish or Gypsy blood’. Nedić’s second in command was Dimitrije Ljotić, founder of the Serbian Fascist Party and the principal Fascist ideologist of Serbia. Ljotić organized the Serbian Volunteers Corps, whose primary function was rounding up Jews, Bosniaks, Gypsies, and partisans for execution. Serbian citizens and police received cash bounties for the capture and delivery of Jews. Jews are, according to Serbian Chetnik Dimitrije Ljotić, a cursed people.

In his views, there are 4 methods the Jews have of ruling over other nations and the whole world, which include: Capitalism, Democracy, Freemasonry, and Marxism. He openly called for action against Jews because they were, in his opinion, the most cynical and dangerous opponents of Christian values.

The Serbian Orthodox Church openly collaborated with the Nazis, and many priests publicly defended the persecution of the Jews. On 13 August 1941, approximately 500 distinguished Serbs signed ‘An Appeal to the Serbian Nation’, which called for loyalty to the occupying Nazis. The first three signers were bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church. On 30 January 1942, Metropolitan Josif, the acting head of the Holy Synod of the Serbian Orthodox Church, officially prohibited conversions of Jews to Serbian Orthodoxy, thereby blocking a means of saving Jewish lives. At a public rally, after the government minister Olčan ‘thanked God that the enormously powerful fist of Germany had not come down upon the head of the Serbian nation’ but instead ‘upon the heads of the Jews in our midst’, the speaker of these words was then blessed by a high-ranking Serbian Orthodox priest. A most striking example of Serbian antisemitism combined with historical revisionism is the case of Bishop Nikolaj Velimirović (1880-1956), revered as one of the most influential church leaders and ideologists after Saint Sava, founder of the Serbian Orthodox Church.

To Serbs, Bishop Velimirović was a martyr who survived torture in the Dachau prison camp. In truth he was brought to Dachau (as were other prominent European clergy), because the Nazis believed he could be useful for propaganda. There he spent approximately two months as an ‘Ehrenhaftling’ (honor prisoner) in a special section, dining on the same food as the German officers, living in private quarters, and making excursions into town under German escort.

From Dachau, this venerated Serbian priest endorsed the Holocaust:

Europe is presently the main battlefield of the Jew and his father, the devil, against the heavenly Father and his only begotten Son… (Jews) first need to become legally equal with Christians in order to repress Christianity next, turn Christians into atheist, and step on their necks. All the modern European slogans have been made up by Jews, the crucifiers of Christ: democracy, strikes, socialism atheism, tolerance of all religions, pacifism, universal revolution, capitalism and communism… All this has been done with the intention to eliminate Christ… You should think about this, my Serbian brethren, and correspondingly correct your thoughts, desires and acts. (Bishop Nikolaj Velimirović: Addresses to the Serbian People–Through the Prison Window. Himmelsthur, Germany: Serbian Orthodox Eparchy for Western Europe, 1985, pp. 161-162).

Written and compiled by Ina Vukic

Depravity of Serbian Propaganda Against Croatia

It is a breath of fresh air to know that the Serbian movie „Dara of Jasenovac“ has not made it to the short list for Oscars 2021. Serbian attempt with this movie to receive international credibility for their lies and vicious anti-Croatian propaganda while at the same stroke of „pen“ burying further their own WWII Jew-free state – did not succeed. It is a breath of fresh air and another bright feather in the cap of humanity that this occurred. I am personally proud to have been one of several writers in the world who had the courage to publicly point to this film as Serbian nationalistic propaganda based largely on fabrications against Croatia and Serbia’s shameless, depraved and miserable push to include Serbs killed during WWII into the Holocaust numbers and Holocaust sufferings.

Instead, „Quo Vadis, Aida“ that addresses Serbian genocide in Srebrenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina, did make it to the Oscars 2021 short list! Bosnia, July 1995. Aida is a translator for the UN in the small town of Srebrenica. When the Serbian army takes over the town, her family is among the thousands of citizens looking for shelter in the UN camp. As an insider to the negotiations Aida has access to crucial information that she needs to interpret. What is at the horizon for her family and people-rescue or death? Which move should she take? Jasna Đuričić is utterly convincing as Aida, a translator working at a UN base near Srebrenica, who sees first-hand the failure of peacemakers to prevent an unfolding catastrophe. “Will anyone in the world witness this tragedy, this unprecedented crime?” pleads a voice on a radio. Yet it’s clear that, despite being an alleged “safe zone”, nobody is ready or willing to protect this area. Instead, thousands are forced to flee to the UN encampment, where the Dutch authorities promptly close the gates on thousands more…the massacre or genocide by Serbs of some 8,000 Bosniak men and boys followed…a fact of recent history that Serb leaders deny as genocide to this day.

Serbia has been on a constant roll with accusing Croatia of antisemitism, of implementing the Holocaust during WWII and all the while, as I have written many a time on this blog before – hiding its own depravity and mass crimes against Croats, against the Jews, against the Muslims all over the former Yugoslavia terrain. Here, is a letter written by Philip J. Cohen, an American publicist of Jewish origin who authored notable books such as “Serbia’s Secret War: Propaganda and the Deceit of History” (1996), “The World War II and contemporary Chetniks: Their historico-political continuity and implications for stability in the Balkans” (1997) and “Serbian Anti-Semitism and exploitation of the Holocaust as Propaganda” (1992), who was former advisor to the UN in Bosnia and Hercegovina, addressed to rabbi Abraham Cooper at the Simon Wiesenthal Centre on February 27th 1992. In his letter, re-published by the Croatian Cultural Council (HKV) portal on 27 February 2019, Cohen successfully unmasks the propaganda of ‘Greater Serbia’, which at the start of the nineties accused Croatia of fascism and antisemitism. Cohen points out that antisemitism is deeply ingrained into Serb history.

A pdf version of the complete letter by Philip J Cohen to rabbi Abraham Cooper can be read by clicking here. Here are some excerpts:

Dear rabbi Cooper,

A campaign is taking place that aims to convince the American Jewish community of the Serb love of Jews. It also aims to propagate the idea that there is growing fascism and antisemitism in Croatia. The purpose of this letter is to recognize it for what it is, a propaganda campaign. I furnish proof that: 1. Serbia has a history of deeply ingrained antisemitism, which still operates undiminished, today in 1992; 

2. The Serb love for the Jews is politically motivated – their aim is to win the support and backing of the Jews for Serb terrorist ambitions;

3. The Serbs abuse the victims of the Holocaust in neighbouring Croatia and Bosnia for propaganda purposes, but do not offer an honest account of the Holocaust that took place in Serbia.

———

Nenad Porges is the president of the Jewish Community of Zagreb, where 1,200 of the 2,000 Croatian Jews live. Darko Fischer is the president of the Jewish community of the Town of Osijek, where the Centre of Jewish Community was bombed by the Yugoslav army governed by Serbs. When doctor Klara Mandić was asked to comment on the bombing of the synagogue in Dubrovnik, she said that the local synagogue was not damaged at all. However, Jewish witnesses disagree. Therefore, it is difficult not to get the impression that doctor Mandić may be more interested in Serb propaganda interests than the wellbeing of the Jews. In truth, her North American tour of February 1992 was not promoted by any American or Canadian Jewish organisation, or the Jewish community of Belgrade. This tour was promoted by the firm Wise Communications with headquarters in Washington, who deal in public relations and represent the Serb oil company Jugopetrol, which is a mask under which the communist government in Belgrade is represented. The American Jewish-Serb Friendship Society, the Belgrade sister organisation, uses the Holocaust in a most dishonourable manner. This Californian branch tried and is still trying very hard to make both Serbs and Jews appear as Croatian victims during WWII. Their bulletin is full of stories about (Croatian) Ustasa atrocities. However, such selective display of the past contains serious shortcomings, namely: the Serb collaboration in the Holocaust or the Serb genocide over Croats and Slavic Muslims is never mentioned. It is worthwhile to consider the Bosnian Muslims, who for 500 years lived peacefully with the Jewish Sephardic community. During WWII the Serb Chetniks, under the explicit orders of their chief Draža Mihajlović, attempted to uproot all non-Serbs from Serbia, Bosnia and Hercegovina and Croatia, and in this mission slaughtered between 86,000 and 103,000 Slavic Muslims. Today many Serbs proudly point out that the Chetniks were their defensive force in WWII, but that is simply historical revisionism. In reality, the Chetniks primarily wanted to restore the Serb crown and the territorial expansion of the Serb state. In terms of morality, they were a version or the Croatian Ustashe, both were totally guilty of genocide. Furthermore, the Chetniks also collaborated with the Nazis and fascists, which is why Jewish soldiers decided to abandon the Chetniks and join Tito’s partisans. 

In August 1991, after I discovered the aftermentioned bulletin of the American Jewish-Serb Friendship Society, I telephoned the editor Mr. Grujić. He first denied that the Holocaust ever happened in Serbia. When I mentioned several concentration camps, he said that the Croats came to Serbia and governed those camps, which is too ridiculous to warrant further comment. With such deceptive revisionism of history, it is hard to believe that some Serbs have learnt a lesson from the Holocaust. Today, Croats in parts of Croatia under Serb rule are forced to wear red-white ribbons on their sleeves, which is a ghastly reminder of the yellow ribbons that the Jews had to wear in Serbia during the Holocaust. Doctor Mandić is the main patron of the view that antisemitism is on the rise in Croatia, and her accusations are centred around Dr. Tudjman. However, the Jewish leaders in Croatia and those Jews who visit Croatia, witness that there is no proof of any State antisemitism…

As we know, Truth is the first victim of war and communism. Regretfully, in Yugoslavia in which the Serbs governed, both war and communism were present. We have to be aware that the Jewish community is the propaganda’s favourite target. Belgrade particularly abuses the Jewish sensitivity to the Holocaust in the attempt to win Jewish sympathy towards the Serbs, who present themselves as victims while hiding their role as criminals and anti-Semites. In view of the aforementioned evidence, one has to investigate the true nature and meaning in the newly forged love of the Serbs toward the Jewish people.

Cordially, Philip J. Cohen”

———

Home to Croatia’s biggest river port, Vukovar was the scene of one of the darkest chapters of the 1990s wars of Yugoslav/Serb aggression against Croatia. It was virtually razed to the ground and suffered a huge massacre when war broke out after Belgrade-backed rebel Serbs opposed Croatia’s declaration of independence.

In November 1991, after a harrowing three-month siege, ethnically mixed Vukovar fell to Serb forces and some 22,000 non-Serbs were expelled, ethnically cleansed. About 350 people from the region are still reported missing. Serbs know where their bodies lie but they will not tell.

The Croatian Democratic Union/HDZ-led minority government of Croatia does nothing to defend Croatian people and nation from vicious Serb lies. It is up to individual citizens and foreign persons to do the work the government should be doing or at least supporting. The HDZ government permits smears and vicious lies against its own people and permits Serbia to “reign” freely with its anti-Croatian propaganda. This is undoubtedly because the minority government has decided to govern in coalition with minority parties, especially Serb one in Croatia, who promote the politics of Serbia rather than Croatia. It is a situation that is unbearable for a nation such as Croatia. The former Yugoslav communists and Serbs, the aggressors against Croatia, will not win this current war Serbia is waging against Croatia with its depraved propaganda of lies just as they did not win the war of 1990’s. Croatia has been and is blessed with multitudes of people around the world and within Croatia who stand firm on foundations of truth and justice. Ina Vukic  

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