ZAGREB, May 2, 2019 – The Jewish community of Bet Israel and other religious organisations in Croatia paid tribute to the Holocaust victims at Jasenovac, the site of a World War II concentration camp, on Thursday marking Holocaust Remembrance Day.
The ceremony commemorated “six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust as victims of Nazi Germany and its helpers” and “Jews who took part in armed resistance across war-torn Europe,” Bet Israel’s president Aleksandar Srećković said.
He said that Jasenovac was the site of the worst atrocities committed against the Jewish people in the region during WWII.
“Racial, ethnic and other biological differences are irrelevant, but society creates them and often uses them to justify hatred, oppression and killing of others, using racism as an argument in promoting stereotypes and prejudices along the lines of ‘us and them’,” Srećković said.
“It is our duty to keep reminding ourselves of that time. It is our duty never to forget what one person is capable of doing to another in the name of higher causes and in the name of an ideology that forgot the ethical values which we all invoke,” he added.
The Serb Orthodox Metropolitan of Zagreb and Ljubljana, Porfirije Perić, said that people, regardless of their differences, belong to the same, human species.
“The line that divides good and evil does not run between nations, states or races. The line that divides good from evil is in the heart of every one of us. It is there that the battle is fought and where a decision is made on whether we are human or not,” Perić said.
The Roman Catholic Bishop of Požega, Antun Škvorčević, said that several million Jews had been killed during WWII as part of an inhumane system of violence and persecution, and that a certain number of them had met their end in Jasenovac.
“Feeling the full gravity of misused human freedom and impotence in the face of the destructive irrationality of crime, we stop at the challenge of innocent victims. It is precisely because of them that any word of revenge, any expression of hatred or manipulation with their number is inappropriate for commemorations in Jasenovac. It would be a testimony of being captured by evil, yet another humiliation of the victims,” Škvorčević said.
Writer and scientist Jasminka Domas, who conducted the commemoration, said that respects should be paid out of humility. “Forgiveness is individual, just as is responsibility for the world we live in. Without hiding behind politics and ideologies, we should turn to the good and dignity of every person while we still can,” she said.
The prayer service began with pupils from a Jewish primary school from Zagreb and a Catholic primary school from Požega lighting six candles for six million Jews killed in the Holocaust and remembering the names of people killed in the genocide in WWII Croatia.
More news about Jasenovac can be found in the Politics section.