Shimon Peres in Croatia –Jasenovac , Croatian Aschwitz
During his three-days official visit to Croatia ,Shimon Peres, President of Israel, held numerous meetings with representatives of Croatian political and economic theatre headed by Mrs. Jadranka Kosor, PM, and President Ivo Josipovic.
Expected gilded and elaborate vocabulary of future more developed economic and culture collaboration and exchange, expressed vigorously by both parties, had also not been omitted.
But majority in Balkans, especially Serbia, focused their attention on Presidential visit to one of the worst Ustashi camps (during NDH 1941.-1944.) in the human history ever, Jasenovac. Tragically enough, Jasenovac was only one of multi-polar system of Ustashi (Croats and Bosnian Muslims) death camps e.g., Logor Jasenovac .
Most mentioned death camps were:
Jadovno, Stara Gradiska, Caprag, Sisak, Gospic, Jastrebarsko, Slana,Zemun-Sajmiste, Metajna, Slana, Lepoglava, Loborgrad, Tenja, Kerestinac, Kruscica, Djakovo…
Numbers of killed, butchered, raped, drowned into the Sava river, died in transit, elders and kids, will never been precisely determined.
Aavro Manhattan, K.Mallparte, V.Novak, dr Nikolic, dr.Bulajic, J.Mirkovic, dr Smilja Avramov, dr Vasilije Krestic, Braco Danon, DJ.Zatezalo , S.Livada, Bischop A.Jevtic, even German SS officers (G.Horstenau) provided huge evidence and proofs of unthinkable Ustashi genocide and attrocities.
There are numerous places all over Croatia and Bosnia (former NDH) were mass extermination of Serbs, Jewish and Roma took place. Such as Prebilovci, Glina, Garavice, Grubisno Polje,Pridvorci,Drakulic,Motike,Sargovac… deep caves in Herzegovina, Lika, Kordun and Banija and many others . Crimes were committed in full accordance with the official state politics of German puppet state of NDH .
Obviously, President Peres could not have visited all death camps where Serbs, Jewish, and Roma had been killed. It would take months to trace most of former anti-fascist (vast majority Serbs) monuments, memorial inscriptions, memorial grounds- they have all been destroyed, bombed, erased from Croatian history!
Even the birth-place of world renowned scientist, Nikola Tesla (son of Serbian Orthodox priest, USA citizen) in Smiljan was devastated and his monument in a nearby town and graves of few hundred Serbs, bombed. An attempt by Croatian officials to proclaim Tesla a “Croatian” scientist had failed recently.
Jadovno, the first Ustashi death camp on the mountain of Velebit where 38.000 Serbs, 2000 Jewish and a few dozen of other people were killed or simply thrown into deep caves, stayed hidden for decades(see: www.jadovno.com).
Recently a memorial service was held by a Serbian Orthodox priest and a Jewish rabbi in the presence of Croatian President and several hundreds of Serbs, members of Jadovno victims association memory group headed by dr Dusan Bastasic..
Serbian President Tadic`s mother Nevenka, also paid tribute to Sharani cave where her late father was killed by Ustashi . Already twice destroyed memorial at the isle of Pag ( Slana ,Metajna 8000 victims killed) was two days after the reopening ceremony last June, bombed again. Representatives of Serbs and Jewish informed local authorities and answer is still being expected .
President Peres visited only a part of Jasenovac Memorial site, belonging to Croatia.
The other half, Donja Gradina, is on the other side of the state border dividing Croatia from Republic of Srpska (R. Bosnia and Herzegovina). Historians from both sides have been opposing each other regarding facts, number of innocent victims, memorial concept, selection of artifacts exhibited or simply hidden in the distant lower corners of Croatian Memorial of Jasenovac. While Serbian side, following post-war UN report, claims more than half of million killed in death-camps, Croatian officials minimize the number of victims to several dozen thousands.
Croatian “contemporary” concept of Jasenovac exhibition has been strongly condemned by still-living victims ,historians as blatant revisionism and whitewashing the truth.
But President Peres was able to see the Croatian ‘authentical’ presentation only.
Even this half of the visited Memorial made President Peres pay tribute to hundreds of thousands of Serbs, Jewish and Roma killed in Jasenovac death-camps.
President, in the first place, condemned the monstrosity of torture and slaughter methods used by Ustashi (Croats and Bosnian Muslims) over innocent civilians and children.
In contemporary Croatia ,as well as all over the world, Holocaust and Serbophobia , ethnic cleansing during puppet regime of Ante Pavelic`s Independent State of Croatia(NDH) has permanently been minimized even rejected ( Journalist Silvija Lux in live contact program recently(HRT 1):” We all know Jasenovac served as a camp for communist, gays, political opponents, some Jewish and Roma…)She did not even bother mentioning hundreds of thousands killed Serbs?! Among them Serbian children ,20.000 by names(D.Lukic) ,from cradle to teenage years….?!Pitiful performance of a Croatian best foreign correspondent.
Statistic data are undeniable though : in 1938(German military sources) Serbs made 32% of Croatian population. In 1991.(SFRJ census) Serbs made 12% and had all constitutional rights of a legitimate nation in Croatia.
In 2010. most Serbian villages in Croatia stayed destroyed, devastated, churches burnt. After Croatia seceded from SFRY, less than 4% of Serbs, mainly elders, returned and are still living in Croatia. Many converted to Catholicism.
So ,President Josipovic`s comparison of similarities between Jewish(Israeli) and Croatian struggle for independence differs a lot.
In the past hundred years, Croatia killed, ethnically cleansed and unlawfully deprived of private property and belongings Serbs living for centuries in autonomous former Austro-Hungary’s outer borders to Ottoman Empire called Krajina.
Diligent support and permanent aid from Vatican , accompanied by Germany, Austria and USA helped Croatia finish ethnic “purification” and proclaim fully Catholic state of Croatia (see: “Magnum Crimen”- Viktor Novak ). Symbols used in that “liberation” movement were the same as already used during Ustashi regime: money (lipa,kuna), arms of coats(sahovnica), public messages, media propaganda, anti –Serb hysteria.
Europe, staying blind, deaf and mute towards reborn well-known Ustashi methods of Tudjman`s Croatia, practically supported violation of human rights and ethnic cleansing of Serbian population .Those crimes will stay traced in history as a proof of European impotency and insufficiency of wisdom and democratic methods in Balkan conflict prevention and further erosion of EU stability and security.
Hostile attitude of local Croats towards Serbian tourists are visible through daily incidents on Adriatic coast , reported by Balkan media.
Even more so, web-site of Jewish Municipality in Zagreb seems to be self-censored by its authors as if not to offend still malevolent and aggressive parts of Croatian society. Extreme-rightists in appalling numbers, can often be heard singing and supporting popular singer Tompson`s bizarre song celebrating death camps : ”Jasenovac and Gradiska Stara….”in Croatian sport arenas.
President Peres ,surely, has not heard of such a contemporary Croatian “celebrity” who paid visit to Pope last year but (Oh, Dio!) half-an hour before ex-president and leftist(?!) Mesic said his farewell to fruitful collaboration to His Holiness.
The “Father of Croatian nation”, F. Tudjman, on the other hand, speaking in front of hundreds of supporters and media, proudly stated once, that he was happy as his wife” was neither Serb nor Jew”. Tudjman dead, his era revitalized at mass Tompson`s concerts, threatens as a huge burden to future EU member.
After having given a lecture on long-history of Serbian and Jewish friendship and collaboration in Emanu El Beth Scholom synagogue in Montreal in March 2007. many Jewish people asked me about Croatian whitewashing shameful parts of their history and Serbian regime passive attitude.
Till today both parties have not changed their attitudes.
But President Peres, experienced politician and Nobel prize winner, not forgetting his youth alliances and mistakes, was at least the first to openly tell Croatian public and elite that crimes against humanity (Serbs, Jewish and Roma) could neither be pushed under the carpet nor whitewashed.
They will for ever stay inseparable part of collective memory of Serbs, Jewish people and Roma. So, President’s Peres visit to Jasenovac has been accepted as a positive step towards establishing human rights in the region and prevention of further revisionism and annulment of Holocaust, genocide over Roma and permanent genocide over Serbs.
Mr.Peres made Croats swallow his bitter message in the name of future bilateral collaboration and interests of both countries
He ,unintentionally probably, also created a path for EU President Van Rompuy and EU officials, to finally nail Croatia to maintain and implement EU standards and laws regarding human and civil rights and property as well as rectify mistakes from the past .
As millions of Euros are at stake Croatia would rather postpone this process ….
Several hundred of thousands of Serbs , 40. 000 Jewish, Roma and hundreds of Serbian Orthodox church dignitaries cannot be revived but peace and decent collaboration are to be given a fair chance.
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