Friday, 24 January 2020

Croatian Parliament Pays Tribute to All Holocaust Victims

ZAGREB, January 24, 2020 - The Croatian Parliament on Friday observed a minute's silence for all Holocaust victims, with Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković saying that the victims must remain in the collective memory of humankind so that those atrocities are never repeated.

International Holocaust Remembrance Day is marked on January 27 when the entire world pays deep respect to the victims of Nazi persecution and genocide of the Jewish people and to all victims of the Nazi and fascist regimes during World War II, Jandroković recalled.

"It is with special respect that we also remember all those who survived the Holocaust and their families," he underscored, noting that earlier in the morning a delegation laid wreaths in the Jewish section of the Mirogoj Cemetery in Zagreb.

Jandroković said that this is the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp, adding that Croatia was participating in that commemoration at the highest level.

President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović attended the Fifth World Holocaust Forum at the Yad Vashem memorial museum while Prime Minister Andrej Plenković will participate in the official commemoration of the liberation of Auschwitz in Poland on Monday.

"That camp of death, terror and cruelty symbolises other places where genocide of the Jewish people occurred along with the systematic annihilation of other unwanted groups during the Nazi and fascist regimes in which atrocities were committed against six million innocent people whose only fault - according to the monstrous Nazi ideology - was that they were different from the chosen ones," underscored Jandroković.

"We permanently pledge that we will never forget the Holocaust and the names of all the victims, as well as all those courageous people who opposed the Nazi and fascist regimes and helped the Jewish people - including 118 Croatians who are Righteous Among the Nations," he added.

"As a country with a painful historical experience of a totalitarian and criminal regime, today we remember and pay our respects to Jews and other people and their families who were killed during the Criminal Ustasha regime."

"Today we also accept the responsibility that we will always prevent antisemitism, racism, xenophobia and discrimination in our societies and that we will permanently promote the democratic ideal of respecting every person and their inviolable dignity," Jandroković said.

Addressing lawmakers in the Sabor, Jandroković said that for some time now there has been an obvious increase in Europe of hate speech and hate crime, racism, xenophobia and intolerance toward minorities and other vulnerable groups - including the Jews.

The growing antisemitism is contrary to the fundamental values and respect for human rights that any democratic society is founded on and is a threat to peace, freedom, pluralism and democracy, he added.

As a result, numerous European institutions have adopted documents that call for the promotion of awareness of the need for prevention and continuing fight against anti-semitisim.

In 2005 Croatia joined the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) which unites governments and experts to strengthen, advance and promote Holocaust education, research and remembrance particularly among the young but also to promote awareness of the need to combat growing Holocaust denial and antisemitism.

In 2016 the alliance adopted a working definition of antisemitism recommending that all countries use that non-binding document as a guideline on how to recognise antisemitism and as educational material about the holocaust.

The Croatian Parliament's Education, Science and Culture Committee on Thursday adopted a conclusion encouraging state institutions and civil society organisations to promote the working definition of antisemitism, concluded Jandroković.

More news about Croatia and the Holocaust can be found in the Politics section.

Tuesday, 26 November 2019

Croatia's Activities in Protecting Jewish Legacy Assessed as Positive

ZAGREB, November 26, 2019 - United States officials and representatives of international Jewish organisations have positively assessed efforts by the Croatian Culture Ministry in protecting, preserving and promoting the Jewish legacy, the ministry said in a statement on Tuesday.

Culture Minister Nina Obuljen Koržinek met in Zagreb on Monday with the US State Department's special envoy for Holocaust issues, Cherrie Daniels, US Ambassador William Robert Kohorst and representatives of the Jewish organisations WJRO and B’nai B’rith - Dan Mariaschin, Ivan Čerešnješ and Evan Hochberg.

The meeting, held at the Culture Ministry, also involved the minister's assistant Davor Trupković, secretary Ana Perišić Mijić and senior advisers Dražen Klinčić and Lidija Zozoli.

Obuljen Koržinek presented Croatia's involvement in dealing with issues relating to the Jewish cultural legacy and the Holocaust, citing "strong and open support by the government." She informed the delegation of the activities the ministry had launched within its own remit and in cooperation with other state institutions regarding issues of special interest to the Jewish community in the last three years.

The main topics discussed were property restitution, conservation and protection of historical Jewish cemeteries, activities of the Jasenovac Memorial Centre, establishing the origin of works of art in heritage institutions, protecting and promoting the cultural identity of the Jewish minority, and fostering the culture of remembrance of historical Jewish communities.

The minister stressed the importance of further institutional development of cooperation on these important issues in protecting and preserving the Jewish cultural heritage in Croatia.

The US officials and Jewish representatives spoke affirmatively about the ministry's activities and efforts undertaken so far in protecting, preserving and promoting the Jewish memorial and material legacy, the culture of remembrance and identity, and commemorating Holocaust victims in Croatia, the statement said.

More news about Jews in Croatia can be found in the Politics section.

Monday, 29 July 2019

Holocaust Must Not Be Forgotten, Croatian President Says

ZAGREB, July 29, 2019 - Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović visited the Yad Vashem Holocaust Remembrance Centre in Jerusalem on Monday, expressing deep sorrow for the victims in Croatia, Europe and the world and saying that the Shoah, the tragedy of the Jewish people, would and must never be forgotten.

She also expressed sympathy with the victims' families and their descendants.

In the Hall of Remembrance, she lit the Eternal Flame in memory of the six million Jews killed in Nazi pogroms and camps during WWII, and laid a wreath at the slab beneath which are victims' ashes.

This was not the president's first visit to Yad Vashem. She said that every time she visited it, she was shaken by the tragedy of the Jewish people and the blackest hour of humankind.

As president of Croatia, a country founded on antifascism and the Homeland War, I'm especially proud of all the Croatian righteous among the nations and the many other Croats who, in the darkness of war and unspeakable crimes, were a symbol of light and courage, she said.

There are 115 Croatian righteous among the nations.

The tragedy of the Jewish people and the pain of the survivors are a lasting reminder that the values of humankind, peace and democracy must never be taken for granted, the president said.

May it not be forgotten so that it never happens again. Tikkun olam - let's be better, Grabar-Kitarović said.

She gave Yad Vashem director Dorit Novak a book by Esther Gitman, an American Jew from Sarajevo, about the Blessed Alojzije Stepinac, "Pillar of Human Rights".

Novak thanked Grabar-Kitarović for her commitment in recent years and advocacy of preserving the memory of, as she said, the six million cruelly killed souls.

More news about relations between Croatia and Israel can be found in the Politics section.

Tuesday, 2 July 2019

Inscription on Holocaust Monument in Zagreb Not Defined Yet

ZAGREB, July 2, 2019 - Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandić said on Tuesday that the monument to be erected in Zagreb to commemorate Holocaust victims would be in line with the project design that had been selected as the best, adding that the inscription on the monument would "say what it should say."

"The monument project that has won the tender will be installed at the selected location. We will do it and we owe it to all Holocaust victims," Bandić said.

He added that the inscription on the monument would say "what it should say" and that talks on the matter were proceeding as planned.

"Croatia will decide on the matter on its own and no one will set any conditions to it," he said.

Work on installing the monument, designed by Dalibor Stošić and Krešimir Rogina, has not begun yet and the city authorities plan to erect the memorial near the Central Railway Station in Branimirova Street in tribute to the six million Jews killed in the Holocaust, with the message that the past must not repeat itself.

The Jewish Community of Zagreb (ŽOZ) recently condemned the decision by the Zagreb City Assembly to erect the monument.

The World Jewish Congress joined ŽOZ in denouncing the decision, saying that its purpose is to conceal the truth about the killings of Jews in the Ustasha-ruled Independent State of Croatia (NDH). Israeli Ambassador Ilan Mor has criticised the decision as well.

ŽOZ and the WJC believe that the decision aims to conceal the crimes of the Ustasha by giving the false impression that Nazi Germany alone was responsible for the horrors of the Holocaust.

Mor has said that although the idea to commemorate the Jews who perished in the Holocaust is always a positive sign, it is also important that every country in which Jews were murdered face its own history without trying to embellish it.

More info about Holocaust in Croatia can be found in the Politics section.

Sunday, 23 June 2019

WJC Denounces Attempts by Croatian Authorities to Whitewash Holocaust History

ZAGREB, June 23, 2019 - The World Jewish Congress has denounced the plan to build a monument to Holocaust victims in Zagreb as an attempt to downplay the role of the Nazi-allied Independent State of Croatia (NDH) in the war crimes, and called on the city's authorities to scrap the plan.

"The World Jewish Congress (WJC) joins our affiliated community in Croatia in denouncing the decision of the Zagreb City Assembly to erect a monument to the six million Jewish victims of the Holocaust that blatantly ignores the active role taken by the Independent State of Croatia under the Ustasha regime in perpetrating these crimes during World War II," the organisation said in a statement emailed to Hina on Saturday.

The Jewish Community of Zagreb (ZOZ) said on Wednesday it had requested an annulment of this "shameful decision" because it aimed to conceal the truth about the killings of Jews in the NDH.

The Zagreb City Assembly decided on June 4 that a monument would be erected in Branimirova Street near the Central Railway Station to commemorate the six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust.

In response to the decision, WJC President Ronald S. Lauder said: “The authorities in Croatia have continuously attempted to rewrite history and absolve the Ustasha regime of its indisputable complicity in the brutal mass murders of Jews, Roma, and ethnic Serbs during the period from 1941 to 1945. While there is always enormous value to honouring all victims of the Holocaust, the city of Zagreb’s new monument is a distortion of the historical record and an insult to the memory of the men, women and children who perished at the hands of the Ustasha and its leader, Ante Pavelic. The Croatian authorities are once again making every effort to conceal the monstrous crimes of the Ustasha by giving the false impression that Nazi Germany alone was responsible for horrors of the Holocaust.”

“One cannot speak of the Holocaust in Croatia without highlighting the central role of the Ustasha regime in enacting and implementing the racial laws that subjected Jews, Roma, and ethnic Serbs to persecution, torture, and death. In addition to publicly commemorating the victims of Hitler’s war against the Jews, Croatia must also pay specific tribute to the victims of the Ustasha regime,” Lauder said. “We call on the Zagreb City Assembly to scrap its plans for this memorial and begin again from scratch, this time in full coordination with the local Jewish community.”

More news about Jews in Croatia can be found in the Politics section.

Thursday, 2 May 2019

Bet Israel, Religious Communities Mark Holocaust Remembrance Day in Jasenovac

ZAGREB, May 2, 2019 - The Jewish community of Bet Israel and other religious organisations in Croatia paid tribute to the Holocaust victims at Jasenovac, the site of a World War II concentration camp, on Thursday marking Holocaust Remembrance Day.

The ceremony commemorated "six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust as victims of Nazi Germany and its helpers" and "Jews who took part in armed resistance across war-torn Europe," Bet Israel's president Aleksandar Srećković said.

He said that Jasenovac was the site of the worst atrocities committed against the Jewish people in the region during WWII.

"Racial, ethnic and other biological differences are irrelevant, but society creates them and often uses them to justify hatred, oppression and killing of others, using racism as an argument in promoting stereotypes and prejudices along the lines of 'us and them'," Srećković said.

"It is our duty to keep reminding ourselves of that time. It is our duty never to forget what one person is capable of doing to another in the name of higher causes and in the name of an ideology that forgot the ethical values which we all invoke," he added.

The Serb Orthodox Metropolitan of Zagreb and Ljubljana, Porfirije Perić, said that people, regardless of their differences, belong to the same, human species.

"The line that divides good and evil does not run between nations, states or races. The line that divides good from evil is in the heart of every one of us. It is there that the battle is fought and where a decision is made on whether we are human or not," Perić said.

The Roman Catholic Bishop of Požega, Antun Škvorčević, said that several million Jews had been killed during WWII as part of an inhumane system of violence and persecution, and that a certain number of them had met their end in Jasenovac.

"Feeling the full gravity of misused human freedom and impotence in the face of the destructive irrationality of crime, we stop at the challenge of innocent victims. It is precisely because of them that any word of revenge, any expression of hatred or manipulation with their number is inappropriate for commemorations in Jasenovac. It would be a testimony of being captured by evil, yet another humiliation of the victims," Škvorčević said.

Writer and scientist Jasminka Domas, who conducted the commemoration, said that respects should be paid out of humility. "Forgiveness is individual, just as is responsibility for the world we live in. Without hiding behind politics and ideologies, we should turn to the good and dignity of every person while we still can," she said.

The prayer service began with pupils from a Jewish primary school from Zagreb and a Catholic primary school from Požega lighting six candles for six million Jews killed in the Holocaust and remembering the names of people killed in the genocide in WWII Croatia.

More news about Jasenovac can be found in the Politics section.

Wednesday, 17 April 2019

U.S. Special Envoy for Holocaust Issues Visits Croatia

ZAGREB, April 17, 2019 - Croatian Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković on Tuesday received Thomas K. Yazdgerdi, the U.S. State Department's Special Envoy for Holocaust Issues, and representatives of the World Jewish Restitution Organisation (WJRO), the parliament said in a press release.

Jandroković and Yazdgerdi held talks on Croatia's support to Jewish communities' efforts to preserve the Jewish heritage and observe International Holocaust Remembrance Day, an international memorial day on 27 January commemorating the victims of the Holocaust.

In this context they recalled that this year, the Archbishop of Zagreb, Cardinal Josip Bozanić, organised a prayer event in front of the cathedral to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day. On that occasion the dignitary 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.

Jandroković and Yazdgerdi also discussed the activities within the Terezin Declaration on Holocaust Era Assets and Related Issues, which was approved by over 46 countries at the conclusion of the Prague Conference in 2009.

The declaration deals with issues such as welfare of Holocaust (Shoah) survivors and other victims of Nazi persecution, the status of Holocaust-era confiscated communal and private immovable property in individual countries and preservation of Jewish cultural property and archival materials, as well as education.

More news about the status of Jews in Croatia can be found in the Politics section.

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

US Warns about Ustasha Glorification and Holocaust Denial

ZAGREB, May 30, 2018 - Glorifying the WWII Ustasha regime, downplaying and denying of the Holocaust as well problems with the restitution of the Jewish property are the main objections to Croatia in the latest US State Department report on religious freedoms in 2017, released on Wednesday.

Thursday, 12 April 2018

Osijek Commemorates Holocaust Victims

ZAGREB, April 12, 2018 - Wreath-laying ceremonies at the "Mother and Child" monument in Osijek's Oscar Nemon Park were held on Thursday to observe Yom HaShoah Day, that is Holocaust Remembrance Day, in that eastern Croatian town, with representatives of the Osijek Jewish Community warning against those who even today negate the Holocaust.

Friday, 16 March 2018

Holocaust Monument in Zagreb to Be Unveiled by May 2019

ZAGREB, March 16, 2018 - A monument commemorating the Holocaust victims is expected to be erected outside Zagreb's central train station by Zagreb Liberation Day, May 8, 2019, a news conference heard after talks between Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandić and the Special Envoy for Holocaust Issues at the US Department of State Thomas Yazdgerdi.

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