Jewish Community Demands a Law to Ban Ustasha Symbols

Total Croatia News

ZAGREB, April 13, 2018 – Speaking at the central commemoration of Holocaust Remembrance Day at Zagreb’s Mirogoj cemetery on Thursday, the leader of the Jewish Community of Zagreb Ognjen Kraus expressed dissatisfaction with the treatment of Jews in Croatia and called on the authorities to adopt, as soon as possible, a law to ban the Ustasha salute “For the homeland, ready” and Ustasha symbols “under which the Jewish community was almost entirely destroyed.”

“We cannot be satisfied with the attitude to Jews because the government’s council in charge of dealing with the past has concluded that the Ustasha salute is contrary to the Constitution but that it can be tolerated in certain cases,” Kraus said at the commemoration.

The event was also attended by President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, Culture Minister Nina Obuljen Koržinek, and Oscar-winning film producer Branko Lustig, who laid wreaths.

During the commemoration, which was organised by the Jewish Community of Zagreb, the names of those killed in the Holocaust were read out and wreaths were laid, including by a high state delegation and representatives of a number of embassies. The chief rabbi for Croatia and Montenegro, Lucian Moše Prelević, conducted a prayer for the dead.

Kraus resented that school children were not told what the World War II Independent State of Croatia (NDH) really was, with its racial laws and concentration camps, and he criticised Croatia for not having a monument to victims of the NDH, noting that such a monument should be erected.

“The megalomaniacal idea about a monument to Europe’s Jewish victims and the proposal for the establishment of a Holocaust museum in Zagreb will not diminish the Ustasha crimes but will downplay them,” Kraus said, adding that the Jewish Community had made its position on both proposals clear, “yet there is no one to hear it.”

He called for erecting in Zagreb a monument to the victims of the Ustasha regime, instead of, as has been announced, a monument to all Jewish victims in Europe, adding that such a monument already existed in Berlin.

Kraus criticised the government for not working on the restitution of Jewish property, saying that it was “obviously waiting for those few who have managed to acquire the right to have their property returned to them – based on an unfair law – to die.”

More than six million or two-thirds of European Jews who had lived in Europe before WWII were killed in the Holocaust. In Poland, there were more than three million Jews before WW II, and they made up almost 10% of the population; 45,000 lived to see the end of the war, and today fewer than 10,000 remain, said Kraus.

In Croatia, there were 41 Jewish communities with about 45,000 members before WWII. Today, there are 10 communities with less than 2,000 members, he said. The contribution of the Jewish community to Croatia’s cultural, economic and social life at the time when that community flourished, between the two world wars, was very significant and it is still visible, Kraus said, among other things.


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