President Wants International Commission to Determine “Truth” about Jasenovac

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Croatian historians are against the proposal, believing that the truth is already well-established.

Croatian President Kolinda Grabar Kitarović is thinking about initiating an international commission (primarily of Croatia and Serbia), which would include foreign forensics and other experts and would investigate the truth about the Jasenovac concentration camp during the era of the Independent State of Croatia and later, to determine how many people were killed there, reports Večernji List on April 27, 2018.

This has been confirmed by the sources from the president’s office, after her recent interview for the Croatian Radio in which she supported the idea first proposed by Ivan Zvonimir Čičak, the head of the Croatian Helsinki Committee. “This should be done to establish the truth because I believe that only the truth can help us move forward,” the president said in the interview.

She explained that, in the 21st century and with the help of modern forensics, it is possible not only to determine the number of victims, “which unfortunately has always been a stumbling block and instrument of various political campaigns, but also the truth about what happened at Jasenovac, not only from 1941 to 1945, but also later.”

Čičak, who was the president’s envoy at the official commemoration at Jasenovac, told reporters that the president mentioned the establishment of the commission between Croatia and Serbia to Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić when he was recently on an official visit to Croatia. According to Čičak’s idea, a representative of the Holocaust Memorial Centre Yad Vashem would head the commission, while its members would be representatives of Croatia, Serbia, the Catholic Church, and Serbian Orthodox Church, and the World Jewish Congress.

The proposal for establishing the commission has not received support from Croatian historians. “First of all, I am sorry that the president and her advisors are repeating the suggestions of Serbian historian Bulajić, who was in the 1980s the main proponent of inflating the number of victims in Jasenovac. The Greater Serbian circles in the 1980s used to suggest precisely this concept,” said historian Tvrtko Jakovina.

Secondly, there is already a public institution which has been doing research for decades about the number of persons killed in Jasenovac. “And that number is 83,857. If somebody thinks that an international commission can solve doubts in science, then they are doing a great deal of damage to science, and they know nothing about science. We know very well what we are talking about when we talk about Jasenovac”, said Jakovina, who believes that the president’s statement is primarily another attack on history as a profession.

Historian Ivo Lučić also did not welcome the president’s idea. “Why should we give Serbia authority over our history? Looking at the situation in Serbia, both in the political and scientific community, taking into account the work of the international commission on Croatian Cardinal Alojzije Stepinac, the commission proposed by the president would achieve nothing. The idea might sound good, but it would not accomplish anything. If we want to investigate the history of Jasenovac in cooperation with independent experts, then we need partners from the European Union and not Serbia. The issue of Jasenovac in Serbia is not a matter of science, but of politics,” said Lučić. He thinks that Serbia is not really interested in joining the European Union and that the political elites in Serbia are antagonizing relations with Croatia to build their popularity among the Serbian voters.

Translated from Večernji List (reported by Petra Maretić Žonja, Iva Puljić-Šego).


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