Kristallnacht Anniversary Commemorated in Zagreb

By 10 November 2018

ZAGREB, November 10, 2018 - The Croatian Antifascist League and the Jewish Community of Zagreb observed on Friday the 80th anniversary of the pogrom against German Jews, known as Kristallnacht, calling for not equating Ustashism and anti-fascism and warning about xenophobia and nationalism.

On the night between 9 and 10 November 1938, the Nazis organised a pogrom against Jews throughout Germany and Austria. Hundreds of Jews were killed, 30,000 were arrested and sent to death camps, 177 synagogues were burnt, Jewish cemeteries were desecrated and more than 7,000 Jewish-owned shops were destroyed.

That was the beginning of the darkest period in human history, the Holocaust, said Ognjen Kraus, president of the Coordinating Committee of Jewish Communities in Croatia. He called for putting an end to the making up of a new history of Croatia and WWII.

"In Germany, Austria and every West European country, it's not possible to downplay or negate the existence of the concentration death camps, to equate the victims of Nazism and anti-fascism, the Axis Powers and the Allied Powers. One must not downplay what Nazi Germany was, the victims of Nazism, what happened in the death camps. In Croatia, that's possible," said Kraus.

He called for not equating the antifascist and Ustasha movements, "the throat-cutters and the victims," and warned about the danger nationalism and xenophobia. He asked the interior and justice ministers, the chief state prosecutor, the prime minister, the parliament speaker and the president if they had read the constitution and if they were familiar with the penal code. "How much longer will you sell the honour of this country which, after the Ustasha movement, did itself proud with the antifascist movement?"

"We observe the Kristallnacht anniversary not just because it's a significant historic event but also because it's a significant warning on the path of every society. In Croatia, it's a warning about where systematically incited intolerance can lead to," said Zoran Pusić, president of the Croatian Antifascist League. "No matter how shallow the lies on which that intolerance is built, little by little they shape public opinion," he added.

The speakers noted that Croatian director Jakov Sedlar's film "100 years of Serbian terror in Croatia" premiered tonight, with Pusić saying that similar films, aimed at fomenting intolerance towards one minority, used to come out of Goebbels's Nazi propaganda ministry too, and Kraus adding, "That's how Kristallnacht happened."

They said it was a disgrace that no senior state official had attended the commemoration.

Israeli director Nitza Gonen's documentary "The Forgotten Ones", about the Holocaust against Jews in the former Yugoslavia, was shown as part of the commemoration.

For more news on Jews in Croatia, click here.