Sunday, 10 November 2019

Kristallnacht Commemorated in Zagreb

ZAGREB, November 10, 2019 - A ceremony commemorating Kristallnacht, or the Night of Broken Glass, and the Nazi pogrom of Jews in Germany and Austria on 9 November 1938 was held in Zagreb's Square of Victims of Fascism on Saturday evening, organised by the Croatian Antifascist League.

Addressing those gathered, the head of the coordinating committee of the Jewish communities in Croatia, Ognjen Kraus, said: "We are here to remember the Night of Broken Glass, to pay tribute to the victims of racial laws, not to allow equating Ustashism with antifascism, and to warn of the danger of xenophobia and nationalism which is on our doorstep."

Kraus warned of rising antisemitism in Europe, saying that armed Nazis had attacked a synagogue in the German city of Halle last month during the Jewish feast of Yom Kippur and that similar incidents were recorded elsewhere in Europe.

Kraus said that in Germany and Austria, or in any other Western European country, it was not possible to downplay or deny the existence of concentration camps during World War II and equate the victims of Nazism and antifascism, the Axis powers and the Allies, while in Croatia that was possible.

"The antifascist movement and the Ustasha movement, the victims and butchers, continue to be equated, and pseudohistorians continue to write a new history of Croatia, rehabilitating the NDH (Nazi-allied Independent State of Croatia). On the other hand, they are inventing crimes and the President is calling for a recount of the victims of the Jasenovac death camp. Why?" he said.

Kraus called the Croatian reality a disgrace, saying that the history of the children's concentration camps in Sisak and Jasenovac was being changed to portray them as reception centres where children were looked after, and adding that senior state officials attended a commemoration for victims of totalitarian regimes at a cemetery where Ustasha and German troops had been killed.

He drew attention to NDH and Nazi Germany symbols and hate graffiti that could be seen across Croatia and to physical attacks. He also mentioned the initiative to abolish Antifascist Struggle Day as a national holiday.

"This day was not mentioned in any of the television or radio programmes today. The event of global significance which actually marked the beginning of the Holocaust, or Shoah, and the Second World War, the worst thing that happened in the history of humankind," Kraus said.

In the Night of Broken Glass, over 1,300 people were killed, 1,400 synagogues and more than half of the buildings in the Jewish communities in Germany and Austria were destroyed or severely damaged, and 7,500 shops were ravaged. The next day, 10 November, over 30,000 men were taken to concentration camps, he recalled.

The ceremony was attended, among others, by Ombudsman Lora Vidović, Independent Democratic Serb Party leader Milorad Pupovac, Israeli Ambassador Ilan Mori and activist Rada Borić.

More info about events connected with the World War II can be found in the Politics section.

Tuesday, 8 October 2019

State Delegations Lay Wreaths on Independence Day

ZAGREB, October 8, 2019 - High state delegations on Tuesday laid wreaths at Zagreb's central cemetery of Mirogoj on the occasion of Independence Day, October 8.

Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković, and the envoy for President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, Anamarija Kirinić, laid wreaths in front of the central cross in the Alley of Fallen Croatian Defenders, at the grave of Croatia's first president Franjo Tuđman and at the common grave of unidentified victims of the 1991-95 Homeland War.

After the wreath-laying ceremony, President Grabar-Kitarović, PM Plenković and Parliament Speaker Jandroković attended mass for the Homeland in St. Mark's Church.

A changing of the Honour Guard outside the government and parliament offices in St. Mark's Square is expected to take place at noon.

Defence Minister Damir Krstičević today issued a message of congratulation to all Croatian citizens, notably defenders and families of defenders killed or gone missing in the war, stressing that it was because of them that Croatians today lived in a free and independent country.

"Today we have a duty to build Croatia's future based on the values of the Homeland War, which is the foundation of the modern Croatian state," the minister said in the message, among other things.

Independence Day is observed in memory of 8 October 1991 when the Croatian parliament unanimously decided to sever all state and legal ties with the other republics and provinces of the then Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY), whereby Croatia became an independent state.

The parliament also decided that it no longer recognised as valid any legal act of anybody acting on behalf of the former federation, which no longer existed as such, and voted in 15 laws required to bring to life an independent and sovereign Republic of Croatia.

Previously, the parliament adopted a constitutional decision on independence and sovereignty on 25 June 1991, but its entry into force was postponed for three months based on the Brijuni Declaration of July 7, adopted at the initiative of the European Commission in an effort to help peacefully resolve the Yugoslav crisis.

After the moratorium expired, in the afternoon of October 7, planes of the Yugoslav People's Army (JNA) bombed Zagreb and the Banski Dvori in St. Mark's Square, the residence of the then state leadership headed by President Franjo Tuđman, killing one person and wounding four. Other buildings in St. Mark's Square were damaged as well.

Due to security reasons and possible new attacks on Zagreb, the parliament was relocated to the basement of the oil company INA's building in Šubićeva Street, where the historic decision on independence was adopted.

More on history can be found in the Politics section.

Monday, 7 October 2019

Officials Issue Messages for Independence Day

ZAGREB, October 7, 2019 - President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović on Monday congratulated Croatian citizens on Independence Day, observed on October 8, saying that over the past 28 years many things had been achieved, "we have demonstrated that no goal is unreachable if we are committed to it."

In her congratulations, the president said Independence Day honoured parliament’s historic decision on Croatia's final and irrevocable independence. Every Croatian patriot is proud and grateful to all known and unknown individuals who made sacrifices for this historic goal, she added.

"Today, Croatia is a State that is known and respected... We know and sense that we can do more and better for Croatia. We wish to create a society and a State tailored to the needs of the Croatian man. I believe that we shall succeed because I believe in the Croatian people, because I believe in Croatia."

Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković on Monday issued a message for Independence Day, which is observed on October 8, saying that the future of Croatia depends on its citizens and that Croatia can be a country each Croatian citizen will be proud of.

October 8, 1991 will remain forever written in Croatian history as the day when the Croatian parliament decided to sever constitutional and legal ties with the other republics and provinces of the Yugoslav federation, he said.

"With this decision, along with the Declaration of Independence and the Constitutional Decision on the Sovereignty and Independence of the Republic of Croatia, which the Croatian Sabor adopted on June 25, 1991, Croatia became a sovereign, autonomous and independent state, setting in motion the process of international recognition.

"With these acts the Croatian Sabor confirmed the long-running aspirations of the Croatian people to build their future in a free, sovereign, autonomous, independent, democratic and pluralist Croatia. For such a Croatia, many Croatian defenders and their families, patriotically and honourably, made great sacrifices in the Homeland War and for that we will forever be grateful to them," Jandroković wrote.

"Today, as we strengthen the future of our homeland, we must be aware that it depends on ourselves alone, on our self-awareness, strength, patriotism, determination, responsibility and harmony. With this awareness, and with coordinated action between citizens and all levels of government, Croatia can permanently move forward and be a country of which each Croatian citizen will be proud," Jandroković said.

More politics news can be found in the dedicated section.

Monday, 7 October 2019

Plenković Commemorates Air Raid on Government Building 28 Years Ago

ZAGREB, October 7, 2019 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković laid a wreath on the memorial plaque on the government building commemorating a Yugoslav People's Army (JNA) air raid on the building 28 years ago.

Plenković said that the attack marked a turning point in the process of Croatia's gaining independence from Yugoslavia. "Fortunately, the state leadership survived the attack, which was followed by the key and definitive decision at a secret session of Parliament to sever all constitutional and legal ties with the structures of the former state," he said.

"This day is also important in terms of respect for the Homeland War, Croatian defenders, the first president Tuđman, the clearly expressed will of the Croatian people in the independence referendum, the eventual international recognition and the fact that Croatia became an international entity," the prime minister told reporters.

More news about the Homeland War can be found in the Politics section.

Saturday, 5 October 2019

Exhibition on Pejačević Noble Family and Croat-Slovak Ties Opens in Vienna

ZAGREB, October 5, 2019 - An exhibition entitled "The Pejačević family and cultural and historical ties between Croats and Slovaks" opened at the Croatian Centre in Vienna on Friday evening.

The exhibition, open until 20 October 2020, features photographs and inscriptions in Croatian, Slovak and German telling the story of the Croatian noble family and Slovak settlers in the Našice area of eastern Croatia. It provides a cultural, historical and political context for several stages of Slovak settlement, which began in the mid-18th century, and the support settlers received from the Pejačević family. The Slovak settlers contributed to the development of the Našice area by clearing forests and working wood on the land owned by the Pejačević family.

The Pejačević family took an active party in the social, cultural and political life of Croatia for two and a half centuries. Notable members of the family included viceroys Ladislav and Teodor and composer Dora Pejačević.

Croatian Ambassador to Vienna Vesna Cvjetković said that the Slovak minority was one of 22 ethnic minorities in Croatia, nurturing their culture and customs and enriching Croatia.

The director of the Slovak Cultural Centre in Našice, Sandra Kralj Vukšić, said that the exhibition was a token of gratitude to the Pejacević family for everything they had done for the Slovaks in Croatia.

More culture news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Friday, 13 September 2019

Local Authorities Observe Anniversary of Decision to Join Istria to Croatia

ZAGREB, September 13, 2019 - Delegations o the Town of Pazin and local anti-Fascist associations on Friday laid a wreath outside the building in Pazin in which on 13 September 1943, the Istria committee of the People's Liberation Movement decided on reintegration of Istria in Croatia.

Addressing the ceremony, a representative of the anti-Fascist associations, Tomislav Ravnić, said that events and people who fought for joining Istria to Croatia should never be forgotten.

In that struggle, 17,000 Istrians died, which is far more than "in the Homeland War, which was imposed on us", Ravnić said underscoring that he did not want to diminish the suffering caused during the 1991-1995 war.

Ravnić said that he condemned in the harshest terms the unveiling of the monument to Gabriele D'Anunnzio in Trieste and public activities of neo-Fascists in Rijeka.

There is no excuse for such events as they glorify the irredentism and Fascism, he added.

In September 1919 D'Annunzio proclaimed Rijeka as an independent state called the Italian Regency of Carnaro.

More info about the Second World War can be found in the Politics section.

Sunday, 1 September 2019

Grabar-Kitarović Attends 80th WWII Anniversary Commemoration

ZAGREB, September 1, 2019 - Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović attended in Warsaw on Sunday a commemoration marking the 80th anniversary of the start of World War II, her office said in a press release.

"We are here to honour all war victims, both in Poland, which was the first to start fighting Nazism, and in all other states which stood up in the defence of freedom and peace in Europe and the world. The Croatian people, proportionate to its population, contributed the most to the antifascist struggle in Europe in which more than half a million Croatian citizens actively took part," the president said.

"We are marking 80 years since the start of World War II, which is a highly important anniversary for Croatia, Poland and the whole world. This anniversary reminds us that it's necessary to make, constantly and with the biggest responsibility, the biggest efforts to build and keep world peace, security and stability, so that we never again have to face the threat of a world or any other war," she added.

Numerous heads of state and government were in Poland today on the occasion of the anniversary, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and US Vice President Mike Pence.

More info about Croatian history can be found in the Politics section.

Tuesday, 27 August 2019

Government: Comparing Contemporary Croatia to NDH Inappropriate and Unacceptable

ZAGREB, August 27, 2019 - The Croatian government finds SDSS leader Milorad Pupovac's claims comparing the present-day Croatia to the 1941-1945 the Independent State of Croatia (NDH) and about Croatia's being a factor of instability in the neighbourhood completely inappropriate and unacceptable.

The Andrej Plenković cabinet on Tuesday issued a press release recalling that the contemporary Croatian state was founded thanks to the sacrifice of people who defended the country in the Defence War and it is not a successor to the NDH either politically, ideologically or legally.

The Independent Democratic Serb Party (SDSS) leader Pupovac said in an interview with the Sarajevo-based Radiosarajevo.ba web portal on Saturday that Croatia was turning into a factor of instability in the area of the former Yugoslavia. Pupovac, whose party is a junior member of the ruling coalition, claimed that in Croatia there were also attempts to rehabilitate the idea of the Ustasha movement.

Considering Pupovac's long-standing political experience, it is expected of him to refrain from statements that will raise the tensions and social polarisation and benefit protagonists on the extreme sides of the political spectrum in their attempts to impose more radical rhetoric, the government said in response to Hina's query.

The statement recalls that the government and Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic have condemned in the strongest terms assaults directed against members of the Serb minority which happened recently in Knin, Đevrske, Viskovo, Split and Supetar.

They welcome the prompt response of the police that have detected and pressed charges against the perpetrators of the incidents in Đevrske and Viskovo.

In all such cases the government expects the competent agencies to establish all relevant facts and sanction perpetrators appropriately.

Those are offences impermissible in the contemporary Croatia. Croatia is home to all its citizens and all citizens need to feel that they are safe and protected.

There is no place for violence in Croatia, and the government is aware of its responsibility and is committed to the strengthening of the social inclusiveness and the respect for the rights of all minorities in Croatia in compliance with the highest European and world standards, notably in the context of a growing populism and xenophobia throughout Europe.

The press release recalls that during the formation of his cabinet it was Prime Minister Andrej Plenković who insisted on including parliamentary representatives of all ethnic minorities in the parliamentary majority. At the same time, Plenković expects all political parties and protagonists to behave responsibly so as to prevent the utilisation of incidents for scoring cheap political points and heightening the tensions among the Croatian citizens.

More politics news can be found in the Politics section.

Friday, 23 August 2019

European Day of Remembrance for Victims of Stalinism and Nazism Marked

ZAGREB, August 23, 2019 - On the occasion of European Day of Remembrance for Victims of Stalinism and Nazism, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on Friday paid his respects at Zagreb's Mirogoj cemetery to all the victims on non-democratic regimes in the 20th century.

Plenković who was accompanied by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Davor Božinović, Veterans' Affairs Minister Tomo Medved and special adviser of social issues, Academic Zvonko Kusić, lit candles at the grave of late president Franjo Tuđman, at the grave for national heroes and at the memorial to the victims at Bleiburg, the government's public relations office reported.

European Day of Remembrance for Victims of Stalinism and Nazism, was designated by the European Parliament in 2008/2009 as "a Europe-wide Day of Remembrance for the victims of all totalitarian and authoritarian regimes, to be commemorated with dignity and impartiality", and was confirmed by a Resolution in the European Parliament in 2009. The Croatian parliament endorsed the Resolution in 2011 as the day of remembrance of the victims of totalitarian and authoritarian regimes in Croatia.

Croatian government representatives marked the day around the country where various execution sites have been identified.

More info about history can be found in the Politics section.

Wednesday, 10 July 2019

Plaque Unveiled at Zagreb Hospital in Tribute to Doctors Who Saved Jews in WWII

ZAGREB, July 10, 2019 - A memorial plaque was unveiled at the Sisters of Mercy Hospital in Zagreb on Wednesday to commemorate doctors and nuns who had treated and hidden Jews during World War II, saving many of them from concentration camps and death.

The inscription on the plaque bears the names of the hospital's then director Bogoljuba Javzo and doctors Vatroslav Folrschultz, Aleksandar Blašković, Vinko Panac, Milan Žepić, Kurt Huhn and Josip Glaser.

The information on the Jews treated at the Sisters of Mercy Hospital during WWII was collected by Zagreb lawyer Marko Danon while researching the history of his own family.

According to documents he received at the Jewish Historical Museum in Belgrade, by May 1943, or the deportation of Zagreb's Jewish community to Auschwitz, 250 Jews had been treated in the hospital, 70 of whom survived the war.

Danon highlighted the important role of Cardinal Alojzije Stepinac, who frequently visited the hospital.

The hospital's present director Mario Zovak said that there were many personal accounts indicating that even in the darkest of times people showed their humanity and mercy. He noted that not one doctor or nun had informed on any of their Jewish patients.

The Speaker of Parliament, Gordan Jandroković, said that these witness testimonies cast a new light on the events from WWII and the role of Cardinal Stepinac and nuns in helping Jews. "This is a story of noble people who risked their own lives to save others. This is a story of good people in difficult times, in terrifying times, and they deserve great respect," he said.

Speaking on behalf of the Order of Sisters of Mercy, mother superior Miroslava Bradica said that today's event cleared the name of Cardinal Stepinac and the nuns who had done all they could to help, even at the cost of their own lives. She said that despite that, 95 nuns were forced to leave the hospital in 1945 and seven were killed.

More news about events from the Second World War can be found in the Politics section.

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