Wednesday, 21 November 2018

Ombudsperson Warns against WWII Historical Revisionism

ZAGREB, November 21, 2018 - The Office of Ombudsman has warned in an analysis that attempts to downplay the crimes committed during the 1941-1945 Independent State of Croatia (NDH) led by the Ustasha regime undermine the fundamental values of the Constitution, while failure to respond to those attempts of WWII historical revisionism creates space for hatred.

"Denying the character of the NDH and the extent of the crimes committed by the Ustasha regime, posting (NDH) symbols in public space or using the syntagms showing sympathy for the regime have become so frequent in the Croatian society that they seem to be almost tacitly accepted," the ombudswoman Lora Vidović said in the analysis published on the website of the Office of Ombudsman.

Vidović calls for education and for fostering tolerance and culture of historical memory among school-age children and in this context mentions findings of a September 2015 survey conducted among senior students of secondary schools that showed that a half of respondents were not sure if the NDH was a pro-Fascist state.

Vidović recalls that European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) recommended in a report this year that "the (Croatian) authorities should introduce compulsory human rights education as part of civic education into all school curricula, especially as regards the right to equality and the prohibition of discrimination."

The ombudswoman calls on all stakeholders in the society to play an important role in permanent response to attempts to downplay the nature of the Ustasha state so as to make it impossible for such phenomena to participate in creating public opinions. She insists that it is full responsibility of the authorities to ensure the compliance with the Constitution and implementation of the laws so as to counter the phenomena "that symbolically or directly support or glorify the NDH and deny or downplay the crimes that regime had produced."

Vidović calls for putting an emphasis on the fact that the NDH was in contravention with the present-day Croatia.

In 2005, the Croatian Parliament adopted the declaration on anti-Fascism reaffirming Croatia's roots in and commitment to anti-Fascism and democracy and calling for nurturing anti-Fascist values, the Ombuswoman recalls.

She goes on to say that it is necessary to honour the requests of the representatives of the Roma, Serb and Jewish communities and anti-Fascist associations and create prerequisites for organising a single commemoration for victims of the Ustasha regime at the Jasenovac Memorial Centre, thus showing solidarity for the communities of the victims of those war atrocities.

Attempts to deny the crimes committed during the NDH regime and denying their extent are actually attempts to deny the past marked by hatred and violence against Roma, Serbs and Jews and opponents of the Ustasha regime, she says adding that attempts to deny crimes actually encourage hate speech that could lead to the violence against the members of the above-mentioned groups. In that way, the continuity of hatred is being fostered, which harms the values of equality, the rule of law and human rights on which the Croatian Constitution is based, Vidović writes in the conclusion of her analysis.

For more on the dark days of Croatia during the Second World War, click here.

Saturday, 17 November 2018

Segestika-Siscia Archaeological Centre to Open in Sisak

The proposals for the development of the Segestika-Siscia Archaeological Centre have been presented in Sisak. There are four proposals which have been submitted as part of the public competition announced by the town authorities, and the expert jury decided that the best proposal is the one designed by Sara Jurinčić, Aleksandar Matijašević, Dino Mišković and Tatjana Barišić-Antolić, reports Lokalni.hr on November 17, 2018.

The town authorities announced the public competition for the purpose of obtaining the best possible urban planning and architectural solution for the Segestika-Siscia Archaeological Centre, which will serve as a basis for drafting the project documentation for the reconstruction of the centre building.

“Two years after we bought the building for two million kuna, we have reached the stage that the Ministry of Culture will fund the drafting of the project documentation. We have published a public competition which produced the best solution and it is nice to see that our vision will finally be realized.

171118 Archaeological centre 2

In this way, Sisak will get an archaeological heritage interpretation centre like no other in Europe, not only because it will be energy efficient but because it will bring together all the segments, from the research on the site from the presentation of the findings. Across the road from the centre is one of the most important archaeological sites in Croatia.

The archaeological treasures found in Sisak are currently not presented in an appropriate way and this will fix that. The town will get new jobs, experts who will come to our town and explore its archaeological heritage. I am particularly pleased that the winning proposal includes the chimney which will be turned into an observation viewing point. Together with the Ministry of Culture, we will nominate the project for EU funding,” said Sisak Mayor Kristina Ikić Baniček.

The main goal of the winning proposal is to bring the centre closer to the users, said team member Aleksandar Matijašević. “Our goal was not to create a closed building which does not communicate with the surroundings but to create several entry points. The visitors who will come to the centre will be able to see the entire building,” Matijašević said.

171118 Archaeological centre 3

The head of the Sisak Conservation Department, Ivana Miletić Čakširan, pointed out that archaeological findings in Sisak deserved such a project, which is unique in that the interpretation will take place on the archaeological site itself.

Parts of Sisak were built directly on the ruins of the Roman Siscia and the prehistoric Segestika, and the archaeological significance and potential are of such a scale and complexity that partial presentations are insufficient in terms of interpretation of the archaeological area.

By interpreting the Segestika-Siscia archaeological area in the industrial buildings of the Segestica factory complex, the project will interpret the remains of the Roman architecture in the archaeological park and create a multifunctional archaeological centre.

For more news on Sisak and the surrounding area, click here.

Monday, 12 November 2018

Exhibition on 16th Century Croatian Scientist Faust Vrančić to Open in Rome

ZAGREB, November 12, 2018 - An exhibition titled "Faust Vrančić in the Context of European Heritage" will be opened in Rome's Falconieri Palace on Tuesday, the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts (HAZU) said in a press release on Monday.

The exhibition has been organised by the Croatian Embassy to the Holy See in cooperation with the Hungarian Embassy in Rome, the National and University Library (NSK) in Zagreb, the Nikola Tesla Technical Museum in Zagreb, the Croatian Academy of Arts and Sciences (HAZU) and the Croatian Ministry of Culture.

The purpose of the exhibition, which will be on display until 7 December, is to additionally promote this Croatian inventor and polymath this year which is dedicated to European cultural heritage.

Vrančić is regarded as one of the most important inventors and designers at the end of the 16th century and the beginning of the 17th century. He was born in Šibenik in 1551 and died in Venice in 1617. He was a polymath, linguist, diplomat, engineer and bishop.

At the end of the 16th century, he wrote a book with drawings of his own inventions and those of other inventors. There were two editions of the book and they differ mainly in the covers and the number of languages used to describe the inventions - "Machinae novae Fausti Verantii Siceni", presumably published in Florence in 1595, and "Machinae novae Fausti Verantii Siceni cum declaratione Latina Italica Hispanica Gallica et Germanica", believed to have been published in 1615 or 1616. The work contains 49 etchings with 56 different inventions.

Faust Vrančić's technical solutions cover river engineering, bridges, clocks, mills, presses, grain threshing machines, horse-drawn vehicles, and work organisation.

After the opening of the exhibition in Rome, a round table discussion will be held on Faust Vrančić and other 16th century polymaths and humanists from Dalmatia who were active in Croatia, Italy and Hungary.

For more on Croatian scientists, click here.

Monday, 12 November 2018

President Attends Paris Ceremony Marking Centenary of End of World War I

ZAGREB, November 12, 2018 - The celebration of the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I, which was held at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, was not only a commemorative event but it also served as an opportunity to look at the future, Croatia's President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović said in Paris on Sunday.

After the ceremony in Paris, the Croatian president told the press that the commemorative events were important not only to pay tribute to those who gave their lives but also to look at the future.

She said that during her stay in France, she was received by French President Emmanuel Macron, and held meetings with several other world leaders.

Grabar-Kitarović said that the Paris Peace Forum was opened by French President Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who represented the countries which used to be on the opposite sides during the World War I and II, and that nowadays the two leaders were working together on the European Union project.

Threats facing the world such as terrorism, poverty, inequality, ignorance, climate change require our concerted action and no country can deal with it on its own, the Croatian president said.

After the central ceremony was held at Arc de Triomphe, President Grabar-Kitarović met with President Macron and other world leaders at Elysee Palace, and attended the plenary session of the Paris Peace Forum.

She told the press that she had done a lot of work on the margins of the commemorative events. In this context she mentioned her meetings with U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, and informed the press that she reiterated her invitation to Putin to visit Croatia.

Grabar-Kitarović presented as a gift "Judita (Judith)", an epic poem of Croatian writer Marko Marulić, to the library of the Paris Peace Forum.

The central celebration of the centenary of the end of the Great War was held in the French capital to mark 100 years since the armistice reached on 11 November 1918. The armistice between the Allies and Germany was signed in a railway carriage in a forest near Compiegne in northern France, marking the end of hostilities which began in 1914.

For more on the Croatian president, click here.

Sunday, 11 November 2018

Croatia Marks 100 Years of End of WWI

ZAGREB, November 11, 2018 - In marking the centenary of the end of World War I, we remember one of the deadliest conflicts in the history of humankind which claimed the lives of ten million soldiers and eight million civilians and whose far-reaching and fatal consequences deeply defined the 20th century, leaving an indelible mark on the collective conscience of preset-day Europe, built on commitment to lasting peace and cooperation between once warring European nations, the government said on Sunday in a statement on the WWI end anniversary.

As a watershed event in modern European history, the armistice reached on 11 November 1918 marked the end of the Great War and terrible human suffering as well as paving the way to a number of peace agreements which changed the political order of the then world as well as the geopolitical picture of a large part of Europe, the government said.

The painful memories of the 20th century which brought Europe two and Croatia, unfortunately, three big wars should first and foremost serve as a lesson to the international community to be more responsible and more active in strengthening global security and peace as well as in preventing conflicts and wars between peoples, so that such human suffering never happens again, the government said.

As a member of the European Union and NATO which responsibly and equally participates in the resolution of numerous global issues and challenges, Croatia is committed to multilateralism and respect for international law, which is the foundation of lasting peace and stability in the world, the government said.

Joining an international initiative of countries which were hit the hardest by WWI, the government coordinated projects commemorating the centenary of its end, honouring all the victims from Croatia as well as all those killed here.

Over the past four years, scientific and cultural institutions, associations, libraries, museums, schools, towns and municipalities around Croatia participated in marking the centenary. Around Europe, Croatian embassies participated in events commemorating Croatian troops killed in countries hit by WWI. Croatian scientists also took part in seminars on WWI held abroad.

The marking of the end of World War I brought together in Zagreb on Sunday representatives of the winners and the losers, who said reconciliation between former enemies was possible and warned that millions of victims were a reminder that peace and freedom should never be taken for granted.

Diplomats from Great Britain, France, Canada and Germany attended mass at Zagreb Cathedral.

The German ambassador's charge d'affaires, Herald Seibel, said they came to the cathedral to pray for peace and that the end of WWI was a day which acted both as a reminder and a warning. "We wish to show the world that not only peace, but reconciliation too, is possible. That's why we are here with our former enemies and today friends," he told Hina.

Remembering the millions of casualties, French Ambassador Corrine Meunier said working on peace was a "constant job." "There are many places in the world where people must start to work on true reconciliation, just as Germany and France did. Today we are together with the British, Canadian and French ambassadors to show that nothing is impossible when it comes to peace and reconciliation."

British Ambassador Andrew Dalgliesh said one must never forget how horrible war was. War is the last means, when all other steps fail. After all, that's why we have professional armies. But the message of WWI is: Don't forget how much you will pay for that and how many people will be killed, he added.

Canadian Ambassador Daniel Maksymiuk said those killed in WWI were a reminder that peace and freedom should never be taken for granted. We must be grateful that today we are friends and allies. We are here to say: Never again to the tragedy and disaster we saw 100 years ago, he added.

A series of events commemorating the end of WWI ends in Paris today, with 80 heads of state and government attending, including Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, at the invitation of French President Emmanuel Macron. In the afternoon they will take part in the Paris Peace Forum.

Mass was also attended by Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and representatives of parliament and the president's office.

Cathedral rector Josip Kuhtić said in his sermon that peace-building unconditionally required the firm will to respect other people and nations and their dignity. He said all victims deserved respect, without selective approaches, and asked those attending to pray for all those killed in WWI and all wars around the world.

After the service, Prime Minister Plenković told reporters they came to pay their respects to all the victims and to once again remember what was most important - peace, solidarity and international cooperation as the backbone of the international order and stable relations in the world. "Today marks 100 years of the November 11 when an armistice was signed in Compiegne, marking the end of WWI, the Great War, which claimed more than 18 million victims," he said and added "that end and the peace agreements that followed completely changed the map of this part of Europe, but also defined the world's future."

For more on Croatian history, click here.

Saturday, 10 November 2018

Kristallnacht Anniversary Commemorated in Zagreb

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.

Thursday, 8 November 2018

Croatian History Museum to Stage First World War Centenary Exhibition

ZAGREB, November 8, 2018 - The Zagreb-based Croatian History Museum will mark 100 years of the end of the Great War by staging an exhibition called "1918 – A Turning Point for Croatia", which will be formally opened at 11 am on 11 November in memory of 11 November 1918 when the armistice that ended fighting on land, sea and air in World War I between the Allies and Germany was signed and when it was agreed that a ceasefire took effect at 11 am on that day.

The exhibition, that will run through 19 May, includes 518 artefacts and exhibits as well as parts from the relevant archive and library holdings. The museum's director Matea Brstilo Rešetar said on Thursday that, while in the past exhibitions in this museum included solely artefacts from that institution's holdings, this exhibition would include exhibits and artefacts from other museums and similar institutions.

Brstilo Rešetar told a news conference that the exhibition would focus on the decisions of political elites that had far-reaching effects on the course of Croatia's history. "The first global conflict known as the 'Great War', which ended in 1918, caused huge human and material losses, and led to the collapse of old empires and the creation of new states and new geopolitical and social relations," according to information about the exhibition which the museum posted on its web site.

"For the historical development of the Croatian people, the year 1918 was undoubtedly a turning point and thus this exhibition primarily presents political and social developments. Towards the end of the year, Croatia terminated all state and legal relations with the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy and joined a new, Yugoslav political entity.

"The activity of Croatian political parties and personalities active in the country and abroad focused on solving the national question. In the South Slavic territories of the former Monarchy, the State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs was created in late October. Internationally unrecognized, the State of SHS soon joined a new common state with Serbia and Montenegro due to unfavourable external and internal circumstances. The Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes was proclaimed in Belgrade on December 1, 1918.

"The Peace Conference held in Paris during 1919 failed to ensure lasting peace," the museum writes in its comment on the exhibition.

Croatia's president to attend Paris ceremony marking 100th anniversary of end of World War I

Over 60 heads of state or government, including presidents Donald Trump of the USA, Vladimir Putin of the Russian Federation and Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović of Croatia, are expected to take part in the central ceremony marking the end of the First World War in Paris on 11 November, the AFP news agency has recently reported.

On 10 November, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel are due to visit the forest near Compiegne in northern France where the armistice between the Allies and Germany was signed in a railway carriage, marking the end of hostilities which began in 1914.

Croatian President Grabar-Kitarović is due to attend the Paris ceremony, as announced by Prime Minister Andrej Plenković during his visit to the French capital in early October.

For more on Croatia’s history, click here.

Tuesday, 6 November 2018

Major Exhibition on Glagolitic Script Starts Tonight

After 40 years, Zagreb will again witness a major exhibition on the Glagolitic script, which is the oldest Croatian script. The Croatian Glagolitic exhibition will open tonight at the National and University Library (NSK) in Zagreb. It will stay open until December 15, reports Jutarnji List on November 6, 2018.

There are many interesting things to see, and among them is the largest book ever printed in Croatia – it is intended as a textbook to learn the Glagolitic script, and it will be exhibited in the library lobby. It was printed for this very occasion and its dimensions are 145 x 200 cm, enough to break the record.

The NSK holds the largest inventory of Glagolitic books, and it has launched the glagoljica.hr website, so it is no surprise that the library has decided to set up such a large exhibition. Preparations lasted for a full year and involved renowned scientists and experts from the fields of literature and language. The areas covered are the theory of Glagolitic origins, geographic areas where it appeared and spread, the selection of some of the most significant manuscripts and print works, and the contemporary application of the script in communication, economy and culture.

“We have decided to round up our promotion of this script, and the exhibition seemed to us as the perfect solution for that purpose,” said Sandi Antonac, the author of the exhibition.

The library lobby will host eight panels of different sizes, two totems, the record-breaking handbook, a plotter and a 3D printer, where visitors can learn how to write letters and print them out. The whole exhibition is adapted to blind and partially sighted people – for this reason, each exhibit is accompanied by a small plate featuring an explanation in the Braille alphabet. In addition, the text of each description is written in the Latin script, in Croatian and English, as well as in the Glagolitic script.

“The oldest Croatian epigraphic monuments and thousands of pages of the most valuable books and documents written in the Glagolitic script, testify to the longevity and the continuous development of Croatian culture. That is why we thought this exhibition was needed,” said Antonac.

The oldest preserved Glagolitic manuscripts stored at the National and University Library in Zagreb are liturgical books, preserved as a whole or in part. In addition, there are also transcriptions of legal texts that show that the Glagolitic script was deeply rooted in Istria and the Croatian Littoral region.

The Glagolitic script was used for other documents as well: collections of sermons, theological manuals, and collections combining spiritual and secular themes. Moreover, the preserved monuments show that the Glagolitic script was sometimes used by ordinary people as well. Particularly interesting are the intricate, often dramatic records from the margins of Glagolitic texts, which writers used to leave us testimonies about the times and the societies in which they lived.

“The Glagolitic script lives today as a brand and through artifacts in culture, sport, society. To people, it is intriguing and mystical, it attracts them, although they do not know much about it. The last book using the script was printed in 1864, so not that long ago. It is important for the Glagolitic script to become part of our education system. Some schools are already working on that, but everybody should learn it,” concluded Antonac.

To read more about Croatian history, click here.

Translated from Jutarnji List (reported by Zrinka Korljan).

Wednesday, 26 September 2018

Exhibition to Present History of Skiing in Zagreb

The exhibition will include skis from the late 19th century.

Sunday, 9 September 2018

Roman Day Held in Rijeka

ZAGREB, September 9, 2018 - Costumed Romans flooded downtown Rijeka on Saturday, presenting ancient trades, military tradition and meals as part of Roman Day, an event recalling that in antiquity the northern Adriatic city was an urban centre.

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