The issue of the said salute used by Ustasha, allies of the German Nazis in the Second World War, is raised every April, when Croatia observes anniversaries of the breakout of inmates from the Ustasha-run concentration camp in Jasenovac in late April in 1945. The 1941-1945 Jasenovac camp was a site of torture and mass executions of ethnic Serbs, Jews, Roma and of Croats who opposed Nazism and Fascism.
Since the 1991-1995 Homeland War, the controversial salute, whose abbreviation in Croatian is ZDS, has been permissible at commemorations of fallen defenders who used to be members of the HOS unit and who had that salute on their uniforms during that war of independence. On the other hand, for years, Jewish associations have continued requesting that the use of the salute should be outlawed, just as in the case of “Heil Hitler” salute, as its use carries a prison sentence in Germany and Austria.
“In Vukovar, the ‘Za Dom Spremni’ salute is considered to be part of heroism of the place, fighting against occupier and in Jasenovac ‘Za Dom Spremni’ is symbol of evil. So, you have to decide, it can’t be the same symbol for totally different points in your history,” says the ambassador after he yesterday participated in the commemorations on the occasion of the 76th anniversary of the breakout of inmates from the Jasenovac death camp.
Jewish rep expects legislative changes penalising Ustasha salute to be passed by summer
The head of the Coordinating Committee of the Jewish Communities of Croatia, Ognjen Kraus, said on Thursday there was a realistic possibility for the parliament to vote in amendments to the Penal Code to penalise the use of the Ustasha salute “For the homeland ready” before its summer recess.
“I believe that there will be no problems in voting the changes in if the Prime Minister and the HDZ mean what they say,” Kraus said when asked about the possibility of outlawing the Ustasha salute, an initiative he launched earlier this year.
Commenting on this statement, Ambassador Mor says: “You have to do something about it. I am not a lawyer, i am not Croat and can’t give you ‘yes’ or ‘no’ (on imposing a prison sentence for that salute). In this case, Germany and Austria are very good role model.”
Ambassador warns of attempts to downplay the Holocaust
Commenting on some global trends of downplaying the tragedy of the Holocaust, Mor said that a portion of the Croatian society used every opportunity to glorify the Ustasha troops and Ustasha leader Ante Pavelić.
As if nothing had happened, as if Jasenovac had not been an extermination camp but a labour camp. This is in contradiction with historical facts and the testimonies by those who survived that period, the ambassador said.
Mor went on to say that historians in Croatia and Serbia disagreed about the numbers of Serb victims in Jasenovac, and he said that it was unacceptable to reduce such a tragedy to the issue of numbers.
“If you want to live in peace, you have to do more then producing movies, you have to have real dialogue,” he said alluding also to the recent Serbian film (“Dara iz Jasenovca”) about this topic which has been perceived in Croatia as well as internationally as part of the nationalistic propaganda of Serbia’s authorities.
Mor urged both Croatia and Serbia to let their archives be available to experts and so that they can arrive at a point acceptable to both sides.
The same should be applied when it comes to Cardinal Alojzije Stepinac, he said and called for resorting to dialogue to overcome different views on the events in the past.
In this context he mentioned the normalisation of the relations between his country and several Arab countries. Following the 1979 peace agreement with Egypt and the 1994 peace agreement with Jordan, Israel has renewed relations with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco in the past few months.
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