Wednesday, 10 April 2019

Knights Templar Gather in Zagreb

Over the weekend, Zagreb hosted the 9th International Knights Templar Conference that brought together members of the Templar groups from all over Europe. "The Templars’ activity has always been mysterious; however, we are not a secret society, but a fraternity which studies medieval history,” said Vinko Lisec, the head of the Croatian Order of Knights Templar that was founded in 2006 at the Trakošćan Castle, reports Večernji List on April 10, 2019.

It is a secular Christian ecumenical organisation that brings together dozens of knights from all over the country, but also from the Croatian diaspora, and is entirely apolitical. “New members come when they hear their inner calling. The Grand Council considers their application. If the conditions are fulfilled, the candidate gets a mentor, trains for a year and then gives an honourable knight's oath with a hand placed on the Bible,” explains Lisec. With the oath, they confirm their affiliation to Christianity and their allegiance to the Roman Catholic Church and the Templar tradition.

“There are quasi-Templar associations that talk about the Holy Grail and so on, but our work is based solely on historical documents, and in its centre is ecumenism,” said Lisec, who became a knight in 2006 and was named the Templar commander a year later. He added that there are several different factions of Templars in the world, and the goal of their association is to bring various groups together. It is also one of the goals of the international conference that has been organised in Zagreb for the last four years. This year, it brought together knights from Britain, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Slovenia and, for the first time, Serbia.

“We discussed the global Templar movement, the possibilities of rapprochement, possible problems, and we also exchanged experiences,” Lisec pointed out. This year, for the first time, the Croatian Order of Knights Templar organised an exhibition on the rich history of Templars in Croatia.

The first Templars in Croatia came from France and Italy after they received a papal order in the 12th century, and their task was to secure pilgrimage paths to the Holy Land. “Since they defended the secular authorities, they received estates where they built fortresses and churches. They were the intellectuals of their time,” said Lisec, adding that the Templar heritage can be found in almost all of Croatia: in the coastal areas, such as Senj, Šibenik, Split and Klis, but also in inland Croatia, in the region of Koprivnica, Psunj and Požega.

In Zagreb, they had their headquarters at Nova Ves, where the modern-day Knights Templar order is also located. “The Templars have returned to Nova Ves after seven centuries," concluded Lisec, adding that they plan to set up a memorial plaque in Nova Ves. It would be an excellent tourist attraction to link Nova Ves with its medieval history. They hope to cooperate with the ministries of culture and tourism on this project since the Templar heritage has a strong tourist potential.

Translated from Večernji List (reported by Stela Lechpammer).

More history news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Saturday, 6 April 2019

Prince Eugene of Savoy's Castle in Croatia to Be Reconstructed

ZAGREB, April 6. 2019 - Agreements on partnership in the implementation of the renovation of Prince Eugene of Savoy's castle in the eastern town of Bilje was signed in the city of Osijek on Friday, setting the conditions for the renovation of this historical building.

The documents were signed by the property's co-owners, Osijek-Baranja County Prefect Ivan Anušić and the Bilje Mayor Željko Cickaj.

The preparation of the project documentation will cost some 2.2. million kuna, and 1.8 million kuna of that amount is to be covered by European Union funds. The preparation of the documentation and public procurement procedures are to take two years.

The project is supposed to usher in a new cultural and tourist route called "The Route of Prince Eugene of Savoy", local authorities reported.

County authorities are collecting funds for the reconstruction of two more castles in the town of Našice.

The projects for the reconstruction of the castles are estimated to cost 75 million kuna. After the completion of its refurbishment, the Bilje castle will offer programmes in connection with hunting and wine tasting tours.

Prince Eugene of Savoy, who was born in 1663 and died in 1736, was a general of the Imperial Army and statesman of the Holy Roman Empire and the Archduchy of Austria.

The Bilje castle was constructed in the 17th century at his request in the vicinity of the Kopački Rit Nature Park.

The municipality of Bilje is a few kilometres north of the biggest eastern Croatian city of Osijek.

More news about Slavonia can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Tuesday, 2 April 2019

Historical Frescos Found in the Cabinet Meeting Room at Banski Dvori

The palace has changed a series of owners. The first one was Ban Petar Zrinski. Then, after the collapse of his famous conspiracy, it was sold to Baron Čikulini, and in the middle of the 17th century, it was bought by Ivan Drašković Trakošćanski. After that, it was taken over by the Sermage family, and after the marriage of the daughter of Petar Troil Sermage the palace at St. Mark’s Square was taken over by Baron Ivan Emilijan Kulmer. He was the last private owner before the Banski Dvori palace became a place where main political decisions are made. Today it is the headquarters of the Croatian government, reports Večernji List on April 2, 2019.

Ivan Kulmer is most likely the one who should be credited for the artwork that had been hidden for decades under the red-gold wallpaper of the Ban Jelačić Room, where the Croatian government usually meets. It was discovered last summer when the restoration of the room began. Workers have found valuable frescos after they removed the wallpaper, and the restorers have since discovered unknown details.

The analysis determined that the artwork dates back to the late 18th or early 19th century when Kulmer was the owner of the building. They discovered that the frescoes were made with the secco technique, but the author is still unknown. At least for now, says the government, adding that it is “a Central European painter".

After the completion of all the works, Culture Minister Nina Obuljen Koržinek will sit in front of the frescos, as per usually seating chart. The murals will no longer be covered, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković announced. The government had to hire experts who are now working on their renovation.

“Damage has been noticed, such as surfaces damaged when the channels for electrical installations were put it. In some places, the painted and plastered layers of the walls were missing,” says the government. Before the works began, restorers had to create a fresco study with analysis and comparative examples to reconstruct the missing parts. Laboratory tests have been carried out, while the entire hall has also been documented with photographs and 3D laser scanning.

Currently, the experts are painting the missing parts of the composition. The frescoes are located on the northern wall and a part of the eastern wall of the room. They show a land landscape with trees, and there is the sea coast in the distance, with towns and building further away.

Translated from Večernji List (reported by Petra Balija).

More art news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Tuesday, 19 February 2019

US Ambassador: “For the Homeland Ready” Salute Has No Place in Public Discourse

ZAGREB, February 19, 2019 - US Ambassador to Croatia Robert Kohorst on Tuesday welcomed Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović's admission that she was wrong to say that the salute "For the Homeland Ready", used by the pro-Nazi Ustasha regime in Croatia during World War II, was a Croatian historical greeting, noting that notwithstanding respect for freedom of speech, "there are some phrases which have no place in modern society."

"While all countries must protect free speech and political expression, there are some phrases which have no place in modern society," the ambassador wrote on his Twitter account.

"We applaud recent statements by President Grabar-Kitarović regarding the use of divisive speech in Croatia," the ambassador said in his message, including a link to Grabar-Kitarović's statement of Saturday, when she admitted to having made a mistake by describing the salute "For the Homeland Ready" as a historical greeting.

"I accept what historians have said, that it is not a historical Croatian greeting. But the point of my statement was not that part of the sentence, but that it (salute) is compromised and unacceptable," the president said this past Saturday, noting that she was wrong to have trusted her advisors on the issue.

More news on the dark era of Croatia’s history can be found in the Politics section.

Tuesday, 5 February 2019

Admiral Nelson's Chain in Zagreb Disappears without a Trace?

On a pile on the ground near the house at the corner of Kamenita St. and Opatička St. in Zagreb. This was when the so-called Admiral Nelson's chain was last seen; it used to be attached to the facade of a building at Kamenita St. for more than a hundred years. Until last summer, when the building underwent a reconstruction, reports Večernji List on February 5, 2019.

The chain was put there by Albert Nugent at the end of the 19th century, while his family owned the building. He did it after the death of his father, Count Laval Nugent, a passionate art collector who, as an Austrian army commander, came to Croatia and stayed here to live. Laval Nugent was also the founder of the first museum in Croatia, the Nugent Museum, at the Trsat fort near Rijeka.

It was Count Nugent who brought to Zagreb the chain which was allegedly part of HMS Victory. In 1805, the ship was commanded by Admiral Horatio Nelson during the famous Battle of Trafalgar in which Britain defeated Napoleon's fleet. Nelson was killed on that ship, which today stands at the Portsmouth harbour as a naval museum.

The historically-important chain was removed during the reconstruction so that it would not be damaged. The head of the City Institute for Protection of Monuments, Stipe Tutiš, said that the chain would be returned about the works are done. The City Office for Spatial Planning manages the renovations works, but its head, Dinko Bilić, said that the chain has not yet been refurbished.

However, both offices remained silent when asked where the chain is presently stored. Reporters have checked the facilities where the chain could be located, but it has not been seen in the Zagreb City Museum or the Croatian History Museum. It is not at the Croatian Restoration Institute and not at the Archaeological Museum, which keeps some of the other objects bought from the heirs of Count Nugent which were brought there in more than 80 cases.

People living in surrounding buildings are afraid that Nelson’s chain will never return to its old position. “There are rumours that the chain has been stolen,” says Marko Majnarić, the manager of the Lav bar, located in a building on the corner of Kamenita St. and Opatička St.

Many people ask about the chain, including tourists, who always tour the Upper Town during their visits. “The chain is featured in tourist brochures, we hope someone will return it someday,” said a local.

Translated from Večernji List (reported by Petra Balija).

More Zagreb news can be found in the special section.

Saturday, 2 February 2019

Gubec Linden Nominated for European Tree of the Year 2019

ZAGREB, February 2, 2019 - The Gubec linden in Gornja Stubica, Krapina-Zagorje County, the ancient living witness of the peasant revolt of 1573, is representing Croatia in this year's contest for the European Tree of the Year, which underlines the importance of old trees in countries' natural and cultural heritage.

The Krapina-Zagorje County Public Institution for the Management of Protected Natural Areas, says on its website that 15 countries are competing this year and that Croatia first took part in 2018.

"This ancient linden is a living witness of the Great Peasant Revolt that took place in 1573. According to the legend Matija Gubec gathered his followers beneath its canopy and led them into a fight for their class rights. Due to its age and historical significance the linden was declared a protected natural monument. The fact that the Croatian Forest Research Institute Jastrebarsko has grown the seedlings of Gubec linden using vegetative propagation method proves how valuable it is to our people," the public institution says on its website.

"The European Tree of the Year doesn't focus on beauty, size or age but rather on the tree's story and its connection to people. We are looking for trees that have become a part of the wider community," the European Tree of the Year project says on its website.

Gubec's linden was nominated by the Dubrovnik-Neretva County Public Institution for the Management of Protected Natural Areas.

Voting for the European Tree of the Year lasts from 1 to 28 February at

More news about nature in Croatia can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Sunday, 27 January 2019

Croatian Government Pays Respect to Holocaust Victims

ZAGREB, January 27, 2019 - The Croatian government on Sunday joined in marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day, January 27, which commemorates the 1945 liberation of the biggest Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau, saying that the protection of every person's dignity was a joint duty and obligation towards Holocaust victims and underlining the importance of educating young people about the mindless tragedy of the Jewish people across occupied Europe.

"International Holocaust Remembrance Day commemorates the darkest period in human history - the systematic persecution, genocide and horrible suffering, primarily of the Jewish people, as well as of other victims of the Nazi regime. As a notion, the Holocaust is the full negation of humanity as well as of all cultural and civilisational attainments and fundamental moral values of humankind," the government said in a statement.

Recalling that International Holocaust Remembrance Day provides an opportunity to pay tribute to the millions of innocent women, men and children killed only because their religion or ethnic background were different, the government called for educating young people about the suffering of innocent victims and the tragedy of the Jewish people across occupied Europe.

This also refers to education about the 1941-1945 Independent State of Croatia (NDH) and the Ustasha-run concentration camp of Jasenovac and other places of suffering, where thousands of Jews and members of other ethnic groups, as well as Croatian antifascists and democrats, were killed, the government said.

International Holocaust Remembrance Day also provides an opportunity to pay tribute to the 117 Croatian Righteous Among the Nations, who during World War II risked their own lives to save Jewish fellow citizens, the government said.

Only young people who have been made aware of and have been taught lessons from the past will be able to build a modern society, free of any hate and intolerance, in line with democratic and European values, reads the government statement. "Further strengthening the freedom and equality of all people as well as protecting the inalienable dignity of every person should be a joint duty and obligation towards all Holocaust victims," the government says.

International Holocaust Remembrance Day was designated by the United Nations General Assembly resolution 60/7 on 1 November 2005. It commemorates the genocide that resulted in the death of an estimated 6 million Jewish people.

Croatia has actively participated in commemorating the Holocaust as well as in Holocaust education and research through its membership of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) and many other initiatives.

More news on the Ustasha regime in Croatia can be found in the Politics section.

Saturday, 26 January 2019

Zagreb Archbishop Condemns Horrors of Jasenovac and Holocaust

On the occasion of the International Day of Remembrance of Holocaust Victims, a prayer-commemorative gathering was organised by the Zagreb Archdiocese and the Hatikva Jewish Information and Educational Centre in front of the Zagreb Cathedral. The event was attended by the Archbishop of Zagreb Cardinal, Josip Bozanić, reports HRT on January 26, 2019.

“The memories in Judaism and Christianity connect the past and the present because, while we remember the victims of inhumane treatment and the attempt to destroy the Jewish people, we encounter the secret of evil, but we are not looking at it only in the framework of the past, but we are aware of it in the present as well,” emphasized Cardinal Bozanić.

“The ideology of racism, directed against God and man, was born in the falsehoods about the man and the Jewish people, spread by hatred, and turned into an inexpressible measure of suffering, which neither words nor images can express,” added Bozanić.


Bozanić also recalled the suffering of the Jewish community in Croatia. “We need to pay special attention to what has happened in our midst, in Croatia, emphasising without any reservation the truth about the horrors of Jasenovac and other camps, where innocent people suffered. Now, 74 years after the end of the Second World War, we also remember the great suffering of the Croatian Jewish community, especially the Jews in Zagreb, which are deeply woven into the life of our city. Of 11,000 Jews, less than 2,000 survived.

He added that it is entirely unacceptable to allow any form of anti-Semitism to be awoken today, although such ideologies exist even now. “They are growing based on the untruths with devastating results of the conflict, intolerance and hate, with the consequences of suffering not just for individuals and certain groups but also the entire peoples.”

The Centre leader Julija Koš said that the rabbi was not present in Zagreb and that she was there as his representative. She read a song saying that each Holocaust victim has his or her name because for the Jewish people the name of the person is the identity, which can be brought back by our memory. “Today's event is so important that its meaning cannot yet be comprehended. Each sentence of the Cardinal's address contains a message what we need to do to heal the society, and messages for future generations that will be more similar to other young Europeans,” said Koš. “Teachers and parents will see where we have lost 25 years of upbringing for good and where we let many forces lead the youth towards the evil that has passed a long time ago,” she said.

Some of the descendants of the perpetrators are aware of the truth, some are not, but none of them are guilty, she said, adding that in other European countries more descendants are aware, while there is a small part of those who advocate for their forefathers who committed the crimes. “In Croatia, we have a small percentage of these, but they are sometimes very loud," added Koš.

Answering the question about the Catholic Church providing venues for the promotion of books that deny the Holocaust, Kristijan Lepešić said that this event had marginalized them. “The most important thing is that this is the largest such event we have seen in Europe. This is a major step forward for the Catholic Church not just in Croatia, because Cardinal Bozanić is a member of the Roman Curia, and I think this is the best way to marginalise the forces that promote such books,” said Kristijan Lepešić.

The event was attended by ministers Marija Pejčinović Burić and Nina Obuljen Koržinek, as well as Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandić and Speaker of Parliament Gordan Jandroković.

The International Holocaust Remembrance Day is marked on January 27, in memory of the day in 1945 when the Soviet Red Army liberated the largest and the most notorious Nazi death camp in Auschwitz, where more than a million and a hundred thousand people were killed. During the Holocaust, more than six million Jews were killed.

More news on the Jasenovac concentration camp can be found in the Politics section.

Friday, 25 January 2019

Croatian Parliament Pays Respect to Holocaust Victims

 ZAGREB, January 25, 2019 - The Croatian Parliament began its session on Friday with a minute of silence to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which is observed on January 27. "On that day the whole world pays deep respect for the victims of the Nazi persecution and genocide of the Jews and minorities, as well as for all the victims of the Nazi and fascist regimes during World War II," Speaker Gordan Jandroković said at the start of the session.

Recalling the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp 73 years ago, he said that that infamous place also symbolised all other places where genocide had been committed against Jews and where other undesirable groups had been systematically exterminated by the Nazi and fascist regimes. "Auschwitz symbolises the death of six million innocent people whose only guilt was that they were different from the chosen ones," Jandroković said.

"Today we also respect the memory of all those who suffered and died at the hands of people who were blinded by fear and hatred. We also remember their families, as well as those who survived those atrocities and who were and are forever marked by the memory of the days of horror and shame they survived and who, despite the immense trauma, tried bravely to return to normal life. It is our debt to them," Jandroković said.

He recalled brave people who had risked their own life and the lives of their children, their safety and freedom, to unselfishly help the Jewish people. Among them are 117 Croatian 'righteous among the nations'. "Those were people of different religious, political and other convictions, but first and foremost they were morally upright. They can be an example to us today that everyone can and must be righteous among the nations," he stressed.

Jandroković said that the lessons learned from the Holocaust were especially important four young people as future leaders and opinion makers. "That's why it is of vital importance for them to fully understand the meaning of the Holocaust and how a learned experience can help in creating a more tolerant, more just and inclusive society in the future. They need to be taught to be against hatred and intolerance of any kind and to respect other people and their diversity," he said.

"Today we remember not only the victims of the Holocaust but also the victims of Vukovar, Škabrnja, Srebrenica and all other places of war crimes, and we send a message of hope that we have learned from the past and that in our societies we want human values to triumph over human destructiveness," Jandroković concluded.

Before the Parliament meeting, Jandroković laid a wreath in the Jewish section of Mirogoj Cemetery in Zagreb.

More news on Croatia’s history can be found in the Politics section.

Friday, 25 January 2019

Commemoration for Holocaust Victims Held in Front of Zagreb Cathedral

ZAGREB, January 25, 2019 - The Archbishop of Zagreb, Cardinal Josip Bozanić, on Thursday organised a prayer event in front of the cathedral to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day and on that occasion he paid tribute to victims of inhumane conduct in the past and condemned attempts aimed at annihilating the Jewish people, while representatives of the local Jewish community welcomed the cardinal's move as a historic event.

During the prayer, a 60-metre-long and 5-metre-wide banner was displayed on the cathedral's walls with the text from Biblical verses written by Isaiah about the remembrance of victims saying "I will give them – within the walls of my house – a memorial and a name far greater than sons and daughters could give. For the name I give them is an everlasting one. It will never disappear!".

Today, we are encountering the secret of the evil, and we do not look at it only within the frames of the past but we are also aware of the present day," said Bozanić who added that the ideology of racism was directed against God and the human beings and was "created on the untruth about the man and about the Jewish people."

International Holocaust Remembrance Day is an international memorial day on 27 January commemorating the tragedy of the Holocaust that occurred during the Second World War when tan estimated 6 million Jewish people were killed. The day is observed in memory of 27 January 1945 when Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi concentration and death camp, was liberated by the Red Army.

The cardinal calls for giving special attention to what had happened in Croatia and pointing out the truth, without any reservations, about the horrors in the Jasenovac death camp and other camps where innocent people lost their lives.

"We are here to recognise the evil and hate speech and to resist them and to build together mutual respect and love, to the well-being of our Croatian society and the whole humankind," Bozanić said.

The dignitary spoke about the Jewish community in Croatia and especially in the City of Zagreb and their contribution to and integration in the life and culture of city. He recalled that the data show that less than 2,000 Jews survived WW2 from the 11,000-strong community in Zagreb.

He says that he sympathises in his prayers and thoughts with the Jews who survived and who have borne the burden of their personal experiences of human cruelty and he also extended his sympathies to the whole Jewish people.

The Zagreb Archbishop also underscores that the descendants – children and grandchildren – of the perpetrators of war crimes should be mentioned in prayers and that they also need the purification by truth. Christianity excludes any hatred towards the human being and other people, he said.

The head of the Jewish Information and Education Centre Hatikva, Julija Kos, sad that the event being held in front of the cathedral was of extremely great importance. "Each sentence of the cardinal's speech has a single message about what we should do to make our society healthy," she added.

Some descendants of the perpetrators are aware what their ancestors did, and some are not aware, and they are not to blame for that, she said.

Kos said that only a small portion of the descendants of perpetrators in Croatia still glorified their ancestors. There are only few of them but they are loud, she added.

Kristijan Lepešić commented that the banner on the cathedral's walls was the biggest of this kind in Europe. This is a great step forward made by the Catholic Church, he said.

In attendance at the commemoration were Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković and envoys of top state officials.

More news on the World War II as it happened in Croatia can be found in the Politics section.

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