ZAGREB, January 25, 2019 – The Archbishop of Zagreb, Cardinal Josip Bozanić, on Thursday organised a prayer event in front of the cathedral to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day and on that occasion he paid tribute to victims of inhumane conduct in the past and condemned attempts aimed at annihilating the Jewish people, while representatives of the local Jewish community welcomed the cardinal’s move as a historic event.
During the prayer, a 60-metre-long and 5-metre-wide banner was displayed on the cathedral’s walls with the text from Biblical verses written by Isaiah about the remembrance of victims saying “I will give them – within the walls of my house – a memorial and a name far greater than sons and daughters could give. For the name I give them is an everlasting one. It will never disappear!”.
Today, we are encountering the secret of the evil, and we do not look at it only within the frames of the past but we are also aware of the present day,” said Bozanić who added that the ideology of racism was directed against God and the human beings and was “created on the untruth about the man and about the Jewish people.”
International Holocaust Remembrance Day is an international memorial day on 27 January commemorating the tragedy of the Holocaust that occurred during the Second World War when tan estimated 6 million Jewish people were killed. The day is observed in memory of 27 January 1945 when Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi concentration and death camp, was liberated by the Red Army.
The cardinal calls for giving special attention to what had happened in Croatia and pointing out the truth, without any reservations, about the horrors in the Jasenovac death camp and other camps where innocent people lost their lives.
“We are here to recognise the evil and hate speech and to resist them and to build together mutual respect and love, to the well-being of our Croatian society and the whole humankind,” Bozanić said.
The dignitary spoke about the Jewish community in Croatia and especially in the City of Zagreb and their contribution to and integration in the life and culture of city. He recalled that the data show that less than 2,000 Jews survived WW2 from the 11,000-strong community in Zagreb.
He says that he sympathises in his prayers and thoughts with the Jews who survived and who have borne the burden of their personal experiences of human cruelty and he also extended his sympathies to the whole Jewish people.
The Zagreb Archbishop also underscores that the descendants – children and grandchildren – of the perpetrators of war crimes should be mentioned in prayers and that they also need the purification by truth. Christianity excludes any hatred towards the human being and other people, he said.
The head of the Jewish Information and Education Centre Hatikva, Julija Kos, sad that the event being held in front of the cathedral was of extremely great importance. “Each sentence of the cardinal’s speech has a single message about what we should do to make our society healthy,” she added.
Some descendants of the perpetrators are aware what their ancestors did, and some are not aware, and they are not to blame for that, she said.
Kos said that only a small portion of the descendants of perpetrators in Croatia still glorified their ancestors. There are only few of them but they are loud, she added.
Kristijan Lepešić commented that the banner on the cathedral’s walls was the biggest of this kind in Europe. This is a great step forward made by the Catholic Church, he said.
In attendance at the commemoration were Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković and envoys of top state officials.
More news on the World War II as it happened in Croatia can be found in the Politics section.