“I only know that this series should have been finished much sooner. But it hasn’t been. And that was not because of us as the crew, and it should have aired sooner. Again, not because of us, but because of the HRT,” Klasić told Hina.
On the other hand, the public broadcaster’s acting Director-General, Renato Kunić, said that no show had been deliberately not aired during his term as the director of programming and during his colleagues’ terms.
He added that the NDH series was put on hold for several reasons. More specifically, an adequate schedule had to be found for the 12 episodes because that is three months of airing, and the programme budget has its rules, Kunić said.
He also said that the series cost about HRK 1.5 million and that the difference between the six episodes initially proposed by Klasić and the 12 realised episodes was about half a million kuna, and he stressed that this was a matter of assessment when to air the programme and not a ban, adding that the series was finished in June 2020.
Both Klasić and the HRT agreed that this was a long-awaited project in which about 30 members of the academic community and historians would talk about the NDH, and it would be illustrated by over two hours of film material on the NDH, purchased from the Yugoslav Film Archive.
Klasić underlined the valuable contribution of HRT’s director and co-writer Miljenko Bukovčan and editor Iva Blašković.
Klasić: Series is neither ideological nor tendentious
“I would like to warn the viewers — there are 12 episodes and this was not done in an ideological or tendentious way,” Klasić said, adding that the series was not chronological but organised thematically.
“Everything that is said is enough to understand that moment — the temporal, socio-political context, to understand what that state was and what kind of life its citizens had,” he said.
The goal was not, he pointed out, to create a lexicon in which everything would be listed, but to give a description and an analysis of a time, and top experts from the entire region and Europe helped with that.
Klasić also explained his statement in Jutarnji List daily that “there are no conflicting opinions, but only because right-wing historians did not want to participate”.
“When we talk about the NDH, there are no conflicting opinions among historians and scientists who care about their scientific reputation. Not among scientists in Zagreb, Belgrade, Sweden or in Washington,” Klasić said.
Some have merely focused more on a particular period. Of course, there may be different opinions on how to approach the number of victims in Jasenovac or after Bleiburg, he added.
“However, when we talk about the character of the Ustasha-ruled state, the NDH, about the character of the Jasenovac camp or about what happened in May 1945, there is in principle no disagreement,” Klasić said.
The series was shot on numerous locations, from the Vatican and Sachsenhausen, to Bleiburg and Jasenovac, Janka Puszta (Jankovac), but also Florence, where there is still the villa which Ustasha leader Ante Pavelić, Klasić said, got for his services in the future annexation of parts of the Croatian Adriatic as Mussolini’s “man for special assignments”.
Special episodes are dedicated to the economy and culture during the NDH, as well as the relationship between the Ustasha regime and the church.
“A large part of the series focuses on the relationship between the Roman Catholic Church and the Ustasha movement. Many say that the Church used the Ustasha, but I believe that it was vice versa and many historians agree on that. Alojzije Stepinac was not a war criminal but he definitely was not an example of antifascist resistance,” said Klasić.
As for possible negative reactions to the series, Klasić said he expected them from those who “have been reviving the NDH for the past 30 years.”
“It is to be expected because we live in a country where abnormal things have become normal, including the Ustasha salute, where about 20 streets have been named after members of the Ustasha regime and where there are associations that deny Jasenovac,” Klasić said.
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