Stand Down Croatia’s Ombudswoman

Lora Vidovic
Croatia’s Ombudswoman

In normal or functioning democracies the Ombudsman cannot investigate politics, let alone create its platforms or incite hatred based on politics and Croatia’s Ombudswoman Lora Vidovic is doing exactly that!

Croatia’s ombudswoman Lora Vidovic published a report on 19 November in which she accused a number of state institutions of endangering the fundamental values of the Constitution and allowing hate speech by being ineffective and tolerating revisionism and the use of explicit Nazi-era symbols

Symbols and slogans of countries of the Axis forces are written or stencilled on bus stops, walls, stadiums and posters, but also on monuments to the NOB (National Liberation Struggle in World War Two),” said Lora Vidovic’s report.

Well, Ombudswoman – monuments to NOB need to be torn down. The communist Liberation struggle of WWII did not seek to liberate Croatia from oppressive Yugoslavia, it fought to keep Croatia within Yugoslavia!

Swastikas and ‘U’ symbols of the Ustasha can be seen throughout Croatia, as can the Ustasha salute ‘For the home, ready’. Those symbols also mark and accompany insulting commentaries on internet portals and social networks that foment humiliation and hate of the Roma, Serbs, Jews and others, Vidovic stated.

The Ombudswoman particularly highlighted the supposedly increasingly frequent forms of historical revisionism and its promoters:

In the recent years, books and articles have been written and published, public forums held, documentaries filmed and TV shows broadcast denying or diminishing the criminal character of the NDH (Independent State of Croatia state in WW2). Such views are aired not only in nationalist media, but also in the official publications of the Catholic Church, and have found their way into the leading media outlets, including the public TV,” she said.

The focus of the document, however, is on the attitude of the authorities, mainly the government, led by the conservative Croatian Democratic Union. She accuses the authorities of being ambivalent towards WWII.

Given that the official reactions are inconsistent or often absent, the impression is that the authorities tacitly tolerate [the issue], which creates an atmosphere in the society that encourages the strengthening of revisionist attitudes,” said the report.

It is alarmingly concerning that Vidovic is still in her position as Ombudswoman in Croatia!

This odious, politically charged and offensive diatribe is actually directed against those who seek truth, not the government. It is designed to further silence those seeking processing of communist Yugoslavia crimes and continued corrupt practices in public administration. Vidovic politically charged report is an insult to democracy. Democracy seeks the truth, no matter how ugly or pretty it may be. It seeks to respect all manner of reaching the truth. Vidovic has made no attempt to process and give due weight to citizens’ complaints and pursuits to decommunise and democratise Croatia. Instead, she makes up stories and claims of neofascism, neonacism and hate speech supposedly being rife in the country. She has chosen to concern herself as ombudswoman to matters pertaining to the WWII Independent State of Croatia but not to those of communist Yugoslavia from which Croatia seceded in the early 1990’s! Ombudswoman Vidovic, evidently disregards the rights of all citizens to seek out the historical truth which impacts upon their lives.

From the Croatian ombudsman’s website we read that the ombudswoman’s role is to “… examine citizens’ complaints pertaining to the work of the state bodies, bodies of local and regional self-government units, legal persons vested with public authority and, in accordance with special laws, of the legal and natural persons.”  She has done absolutely nothing, or very little indeed, about complaints regarding the lack of progress in cleaning the state-machinery from communist Yugoslavia public administration habits such as nepotism and corruption, lack of transparency in public administration, expenditure etc.

Her bias favouring the former communist regime is alarmingly stark and utterly unacceptable for a country that paid with rivers blood and obliterating destruction for a chance at democracy!

It is by no accident that soon after the Croatian Ombudswoman Lora Vidovic published this politically vitriolic study noticeably designed to aid the continued justification of unjustifiable communist crimes perpetrated against Croatians in former communist Yugoslavia during and post World War Two that a group of rowdy so-called antifascists on November 30th disrupted (fortunately unsuccessfully) at the City Library in the coastal city of Sibenik a promotion of Igor Vukic’s book ‘Labour Camp Jasenovac’. The book airs factual fresh findings on the World War II camp that throw a somewhat different light on that camp than the one concocted by the communists after WWII.

Instead of supporting revision of history that is based on facts, Vidovic calls it fascism.

In recent years, books and articles have been written and published, public forums held, documentaries filmed and TV shows broadcast denying or diminishing the criminal character of the NDH (WWII Independent State of Croatia),” she added.

Her report says nothing about continued celebrations of the murderous communist Yugoslavia totalitarian regime! She claims that the government’s inaction on matters of WWII is not in line with the European Parliament Resolution on the Rise of Neo-Fascist Violence in Europe, which urges EU member states to take immediate measures to condemn and suppress all forms of hate speech and denial of the Holocaust, including the minimisation of Nazi crimes. Conveniently, Vidovic omitted to mention the EU resolutions and declarations for the condemnation of all totalitarian regimes, including the communist one – to which she evidently subscribes even in this day when Croatia’s past must be reconciled with facts in order to grow a healthy democracy!
Vidovic made a lame and twisted attempt to explain that her analysis of the current state in Croatia did not equate WWII Ustashe with the Homeland War veterans! “There are those who think that my analysis tramples upon the Homeland War and the bones of killed defenders. No! Homeland War was legitimate, liberating, and entirely different from Ustashe battles in the WWII Independent State of Croatia…today’s Croatia is different to the fascist Independent State of Croatia (WWII),” she stated.

One cannot but look with horror that Vidovic wants to criminalise the very muse that carried the Homeland War veterans through vicious aggression to independence – “For Home Ready” greeting!

Whether one accepts it on not, and taking aside the horrible crimes committed by all sides in WWII, the WWII Ustashe did take upon themselves the legitimate battles of liberating Croatia from the oppressive, dictatorial Serb-led Kingdom of Yugoslavia. That legitimacy stands on its own merit just as the Homeland War does.

A question begs an answer. How is the communist totalitarian regime to be condemned if its ugly truth is hidden and omitted from public dialogue that seeks progress? Regardless of Vidovic’s views, tearing apart the inherited communist regime’s processes still heavily present in public administration, such dialogue is not revisionism – it is a necessity of the truth. The office of the Ombudswoman should be the first institution in the land to respect and give due credence to both sides of such a public discourse and intentions. It is the last institution that should enter into the suffocation of one side of such a debate by conjuring up cruel innuendoes and utterly vicious claims.

The prerequisite for office of Ombudsman/woman should be objectivity and independence. Lora Vidovic displays neither! Democracy simply cannot grow in Croatia when its institution that’s supposed to “watch” over government or public administration is headed by a person (Vidovic) who seeks the outlawing of greetings such as “For Home(land) Ready” used by Croatians seeking independence during WWII and during 1990’s Homeland War as well as being prominent throughout Croatian history for centuries and fails to seek the outlawing of Yugoslavia’s “Red Star” and other symbols of communism, oppression and murder. This is blatant and purposeful denial of rights to all Croatians who fought, lost lives and continue the good fight for independence, self-preservation and democracy.

Living in democracies outside Croatia we have long known that the establishment and strengthening of institutional means for the defence of citizens against the State’s arbitrary power, and redress for the injustices of its action or omission, are closely related to the advent of democracy. The figure of the ombudsman is a paradigmatic example, understood as a guarantee of individual freedom, provider of justice or public advocate. By its nature, its powers and its action, from the beginning it played in democracies an essential role in promoting the culture of human rights and, hence, in consolidating the democratic rule of law that is in its genesis. Croatia’s Ombudswoman has taken upon herself to spread her “protective” wings over those nurturing the justification of communist crimes and corrupt public administration, while ignoring or persecuting those who pursue condemnation of those crimes and who pursue advancement of democratic processes in public administration.

It is true that today thousands and thousands of Croatian men and women still feel the pain of wounds resulting from the violent and inhuman Serb aggression when Croatia sought independence from communist Yugoslavia. Human rights institutions, such as Ombudsman, have not developed strategies and actions that mitigate the adverse effects of this terrible past, taking into account the respect for historical memory, thus bequeathing a whole perspective of future. Established trust between citizens and the State is undoubtedly one of the fundamental democratic community pillars. Instead of respecting, promoting and defending the most basic of human rights – the right to truth – without compromise, Vidovic has decided to compromise the truth, even to conceal it or make up a truth. She attacks individual incidents in “social media” or other media that lend themselves to keeping the ugly communist truth displayed, seeking lustration and cleaning up Croatia from detrimental communist Yugoslavia heritage in public administration and life!

How can anyone in Croatia bear now to put their hands up and say something is wrong and senior people are doing the wrong thing if this is what happens to those who seek decommunisation. Vidovic would simply label them as fascists! She is not the only one, regretfully! Achieving full democracy and human rights remains a battle pursued only by the brave ones, despite and in spite of the Lora Vidovic’s of this world. Ina Vukic

Labor Camp Jasenovac

Igor Vukic, author “Labor Camp Jasenovac”

Wherever you look, whether in books, tourist or other flyers and brochures, newspapers, digital or online media, Jasenovac site for World War II victims is portrayed as Jasenovac Concentration Camp (at times it has been referred to as an extermination camp) – within the context of the Holocaust. This portrayal of Jasenovac camp was initiated and established by the communist Yugoslavia regime in which a great number of Serbs played important, decisive, roles. That is a historical fact! I myself, for the benefit of public attention focus, in my writings throughout many years, have referred to it under that title because that was the name by which the world’s public was trained to recognise it. That is so in spite of the fact that all of my writings delved into the issues of scandalously pumped-up victim numbers and the concealment (by communists and pro-communists) of historical truth which shows that Jasenovac camp remained opened for a number of years after WWII for the purposes of communist purges and murders.

The past few months, in Croatia and worldwide, have particularly been coloured by escalated accusations and malicious allegations of neo-fascism or neo-Nazism supposedly gaining more and more ground in Croatia. Media articles and television and radio sources have been riddled with such fabricated monstrosities. Needless to say that the historical and patriotic greeting/salute “For Home Ready” (Za Dom Spremni) used in Croatia for centuries has, to former communists and pro-Communists and left-leaning political echelons, just like Jasenovac camp, become (utterly undeservingly) a symbol of neo-fascism and neo-Nazism. With leading Croatian journalists, writers, activists… being bullied and sanctioned (losing their jobs and livelihood etc.) for even daring to utter the notion that the WWII and post-WWII recorded Croatian history needs to be properly researched and brought to light, the courage for truth becomes more and more perilous for its seeker. It has come to this: those that sow rejection of fascism actually practice it, hiding their pathetic regard for truth and human rights, under vicious “antifascist” skirts.

Yesterday, I came across a newspaper (Vecernji List, Croatia) article by Milan Ivkosic, who writes about a new book released “Labor Camp Jasenovac” (Radni Logor Jasenovac) by author Igor Vukic (no family relation to me) and it grabbed my attention particularly because, given the persecution of those that even dare offer acknowledgment of the likely possibility that Jasenovac was not exclusively and purposefully an extermination camp, the article represents sound courage and positive, objectively lined credo.

Milan Ivkosic writes (translated into Egnlish): “Almost not a day goes by that Jasenovac is not mentioned, either as part of accusations against Thompson (Croatian popular singer and songwriter Marko Perkovic Thompson), in relation to verdicts regarding ‘For Home Ready’ or in relation to various books and texts, often mutually opposing, contradictory, exclusive.

I have read a splendid book ‘Labor Camp Jasenovac’ (Published by P.I.P.), authored by Igor Vukic, an unusual author of Serb nationality whose family members were in the Jasenovac camp, but his texts are completely different from a great majority of those previously written on the same topic. Even the mere syntagma in the book’s title ‘labor camp’ suggests that the book is about very ‘sinful’ research. It is in significant contradiction to the decades of the imposed myth about Jasenovac. It is in essence contradictory to the decades long myth of Jasenovac in which the reasons for detention, the character of the camp, the number of victims … are completely different to Vukic’s.

The author is a calm researcher, completely devoted to facts, without any negative or positive passion, appropriation, or bias. And those facts are in multitudes of examples that fill the whole book, examples found in archives, mostly in the Croatian State Archives, and those obtained from other trusted sources.

If some content in the book is doubtful to the author, he alerts the reader to take caution. And these are, actually, the only author’s only ‘interventions’, everything else is told by people, their fates, transcripts from post-war court hearings, authentic documents, and information. Naturally, as he does not write about ‘Labor Camp Jasenovac’ as exclusively a place of extermination, as communist authors and propagandists do, Vukic does not deny crimes.

He only brings them out, describes them, and there were many, those with excuse, those with fabricated excuse, but there was also punishment of the Ustashas who committed some of them, and punishments included execution by shooting. Those who had committed some crime against the State were taken to the camp, but as time passed a frightening rule for Jews became valid – that they could be incarcerated only because they were Jews. The longest sentence was three years, after serving the sentence the detainees were released, some even before having served the full sentence, when they had good advocates or for other reasons. Food was generally very poor, except when it was sourced from outside, from Jewish communities or other sources, which was done completely freely and was permitted. There were a lot of illnesses and deaths, which were certified by a doctor and a local official.

“Labor Camp Jasenovac” front book cover

Breaches were most strictly punished, sometimes most cruelly – by imprisoning detainees in areas where they died of hunger and thirst. These were the strictest punishments causing escape. If a fugitive was not arrested or killed, a number of people from his group were killed. The book also mentions the attitude of Archbishop Stepinac about Jasenovac as ‘the shameful stain on NDH’ (Independent State of Croatia/WWII). There were plenty of workshops in the camp where detainees could demonstrate their creative abilities and abilities to create complicated products. Thus, in one workshop, parts for cars and aircraft were made. These workshops made into work camp, everyday life was marked by work. But in that life there was something which the promoters of the myth of criminal Jesenovac find hardest to accept. That is, there was entertainment in the camp. There were sporting matches, especially football, concerts, theatrical performances, among which performances were the works created by the detainees themselves.

A renowned musician, detainee and communist sympathiser Natko Devcic, who, after the war, wrote about the performances in the camp in an unpublished diary, led the camp’s orchestra. There were also sketches in which they participated and permitted even the highest officials at Jasenovac, such as Dinko Sakic, to be ironised. The detainees also occupied themselves with science, ad when Vuk Vernic, a detained professor of sociology and statistics, asked from the Ustashe leaders to obtain for him books from the University library in Zagreb – he got them! International inspectors also visited the camp, and one of these visits was recorded in the AVNOJ (Antifascist Council for the Liberation of Yugoslavia) 1942 publication, which states that in order to build new facilities faster the detainees received better food.

Vukic does not deal much with the number of victims, but only at the end he mentions an incredible example: although in 1941, according to documents and detainee testimonies, there were about 1,200 detainees in the camp, the official list of victims contains 10,700 killed there in that year! One could bring out a whole array of characteristics of Jasenovac from this book, which, given the data in it, is comprehensive and with its 330 pages is not a large book. Being as such, the book is an enormous contribution to the research of the truth of Jasenovac that is ideology-free, bias-free, affect-free and free of heritage entailed in the Greater Serbian and communist falsifications.” Ina Vukic

Croatia: New Fact-finding Research Into WWII Jasenovac Camp Absolutely Essential

(R) Ivo Goldstein (L) Aleksandar Stankovic
Photo: Screenshot

 

Lies loom large over some historian’s craft. Whether some accounts of history are outright lies or details which have not been proven with evidence presented as fact – they are all lies. And yet, to our dismay, deception hasn’t really figured as a category of historical analysis.

Attempts at new fact-finding research into historical events particularly those dealing with the Holocaust or WWII have been labelled “historical revisionism” with negative or undesirable connotations. This of course has been done on purpose, in Croatia by former Yugoslav communists, to thwart any possible revelation of truth, which does not agree with the myth about the WWII Independent State of Croatia they’ve been peddling since 1945. While doing that, they managed to keep horrendous communist crimes relatively hidden but definitely un-prosecuted and un-condemned.

The term historical revisionism refers to and identifies the re-interpretation of the historical record and, therefore, any investigation that leads to the finding of new facts that are not on record is simply not historical revisionism in that sense. It is correction of mistakes or misrepresentations found in historical records.

When you have a former Yugoslav communist and today’s Yugoslav communist sympathiser (who hangs on his office wall the portrait of Josip Broz Tito, former Yugoslavia’s leader and one classed among top ten mass murderers in history of the world) as a historian, as Ivo Goldstein is in Croatia, you get a deadly formula fighting against the surfacing historical truth.

On Sunday 17 June Ivo Goldstein appeared on a Croatian TV show “Sunday at 2” (Nedjeljom u 2) and the topic was WWII Jasenovac camp. While much of the show referred to a new book on Jasenovac Goldstein is reportedly preparing to publish later this year, one does not need to dig deep to find the real motive behind this TV show’s agenda. Generally it’s the increased efforts into scientific research into the WWII Jasenovac camp, both about its factual nature and numbers of victims (about which the communist Yugoslavia together with Serbian propagandist armada have perpetuated the myth of more than 700,000 victims even though 1960’s research had come up with some 83,000) that get the communist blood pumping. Specifically, the recently published book in Croatia “Jasenovac – Work Camp” by Igor Vukic, which brings forth new facts uncovered through research that seriously shake the very ground the communist myth built its historical deception about Croatia and Croats during WWII, has got the communist sympathisers, including Aleksandar Stankovic, “Sunday at 2” anchor, running for agendas that would keep the communist myth about Jasenovac camp afloat.

And so, Ivo Goldstein tells the TV audience that “the whole story of Ustashas, Bleiburg (mass communist crimes against Croats May 1945), and historical revisionism that flourishes around us has been imposed upon Croatia and Croatian society in order to deal with it, so that somewhere around the corner a backward, closed, conservative and anti-immigration ideology and its implementation politics could be promoted.”

It is a conflict between two Croatias – one is open, the other is closed, one is the ones that hates and the other is the one that wants communication,” Goldstein said, adding, “the public is bombarded with a series of lies”. Of course, he wasn’t referring to communist lies, which he himself has been peddling for quite some time. He kept pontificating about today’s historical revisionism associated with the WWII Ustasha regime in Croatia.

Since Goldstein considers himself to be a scientist, a historian, it is utterly telling of his unprofessional biases when he gave neither credence nor credibility to any new fact-finding research into WWII events or Jasenovac. In fact, he was adamant that new research and digging of grave sites around Jasenovac would not result into any new findings regarding the victims, because, he claims that the 1960’s research had found yellowish soil there that reminded of ash from burned bones! In fact, he called those who today dispute the historically recorded volume of suffering at WWII Jasenovac camp – stinkers!

While he said the 700,000 victims of WWII Jasenovac was a myth orchestrated and promoted by Serbs his efforts in no way go towards breaking that myth, a true and credible historian in that field of science should. When asked whether his new book will bring anything new he said no, nothing except psychological profiling of “Ustasha criminals” at WWII Jasenovac camp!

As I said at the beginning of this article: lies loom large over some historian’s craft.

In desperate attempts to maintain the communist myth about WWII Jasenovac camp, in a desperate attempt to mar and damage in people’s minds, at least, any new research findings that go towards breaking that myth, Goldstein is now steering into psychological profiling of people (Ustashas) who were at Jasenovac camp more than 70 years ago and are long dead and so are those who might have known them!

It is a scientific and practical fact that psychological profiling is still an inexact method of portraying perpetrators of crimes, even now. But the term has been used to amplify and give added credibility to criminal investigations. Goldstein is most likely quite aware that by using those catchwords – “psychological profiling” – the public will take notice even more than what they would if presented with bare numbers or facts. One could go even further and say that by introducing the concept of psychological profiling into historical accounts of events, that may lack necessary evidential material for profiling, it makes any lies contained in those psychological profiles even more palpable to those who choose to believe the lies in the first instance. This is simply because the idea of “psychological profiling” has caught on among the general (voting in elections) public especially since “The Silence of the Lambs” movie and TV shows like “The Profiler”. But in reality there’s more to a criminal than just his/her actions that go into his/her psychological profile.

Ivo Goldstein is not satisfied with just keeping the communist myth about Jasenovac camp unchallenged when it comes to the number of victims, he is now entering into a new domain, psychological profiling, with only one obvious intent: to keep the myth alive by building into it his concoctions of individual profiles of people who are long dead and for whom there is little if any living corroboration about the character and possible mind of that individual!

Lying, fraud and deception were a particular qualification of those who wrote the “official” history of WWII Croatia, concentrating their efforts into making the Jasenovac camp as the worst Holocaust ground in Europe. Their followers such as Aleksandar Stankovic and Ivo Goldstein deserve every bit of contempt one can muster.

Shadows from the past do hover over contemporary Croatia but not for the agenda Goldstein claims – to Ustashise Croatia. They hover because historical truth does not exist; it has been concealed, manipulated and filled with half-truths and misinformation to suit the communist agenda. For that reason, research into the facts of Jasenovac camp is absolutely essential and Goldstein’s psychological profiling can be dumped into the same trash-bin as his books and publications so far have been by all who seek and demand the truth. Ina Vukic

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