ZAGREB, June 24, 2019 – A ceremony was held in Jadovno, about 20 kilometres west of the central town of Gospić, to commemorate over 10,000 Serbs, Jews, Roma and Croats killed in an Ustasha-run concentration camp there in 1941.
The commemoration was organised by the Serb National Council, the coordinating body of Jewish communities in Croatia, the Serb Orthodox Eparchy of Upper Karlovac and the Alliance of Anti-Fascist Fighters and Anti-Fascists (SABA), whose leaders warned of war crimes committed by the Nazi-allied Ustaha regime being denied in present-day Croatia.
“We want the whole truth about these horrifying death camps to reach the Croatian public and the international community, especially young people who know nothing about them, neither what the (Ustasha-ruled) Independent State of Croatia (NDH) was nor what it was founded upon,” said the coordinator of the Jewish communities of Croatia, Ognjen Kraus.
Kraus warned of groups systematically denying that the NDH was a criminal creation, stressing that they were being assisted in this by media and political office holders.
“A few days ago, the president of Croatia received representatives of the pro-Ustasha initiative Hrvatski Obredni Zdrug Jazovka for whom Jadovno is a lie,” Kraus said, emphasising that all war crimes should be condemned but should be differentiated and never equated. “It should be made clear who was the victim and who the executioner, who was the fighter and victor and who the criminal and defeated.”
The head of the Serb National Council, Milorad Pupovac, also brought attention to the downplaying of war crimes committed by the Ustasha regime, wondering if there was any other country in the EU where the prime minister was called the murderer of Croatia and Croats because he had sent a wreath to commemorate Partisans killed during the 1943 Battle of Sutjeska.
Pupovac said that what was left of the ethnic groups who had suffered at the hands of Ustashas would continue to oppose those who kept denying Ustasha crimes and glorifying the Ustasha regime.
Criticising state officials for not attending today’s ceremony, Pupovac said it was not enough to visit Jasenovac, while ignoring more than 50 other Ustasha concentration camp sites such as those in Koprivnica, Kerestinec, Đakovo, Lobor Grad, Sisak and Jastrebarsko. He said that the Jadovno camp was the cruellest of them all.
SABA president Franjo Habulin said that a lot of problems had accumulated in Croatia that needed addressing, such as history textbooks, anti-fascist monuments and Catholic clergy saying Mass for fascist criminals.
He welcomed Saturday’s speech by the prime minister’s envoy, Justice Minister Dražen Bošnjaković, at the Anti-Fascist Struggle Day commemoration in Brezovica Forest near Sisak.
“It is encouraging that Minister Bošnjaković said yesterday that the government condemns the Ustasha regime and the crimes it committed in World War II. It is an unambiguous message that present-day Croatia is not a successor to the NDH, but a country founded on anti-fascist values and the anti-fascist victory in World War II,” Habulin said.
Wreaths at the monument in Jadovno were laid by delegations of Croatia, Serbia and Israel, as well as delegations of religious communities and anti-fascist organisations. The commemoration was attended by about 300 people. The religious service for Serb victims was led by Serb Orthodox Metropolitan Porfirije Perić and Bishop Gerasim, while that for Jews was led by Chief Rabbi Luciano Moše Prelević.
More news about the Second World War events can be found in the Politics section.