Sunday, 24 April 2022

Roma Killed by Ustasha in WWII Commemorated

ZAGREB, 24 April 2022 - A group of Roma killed in the village of Hrastina by Ustasha units in the night between 24 and 25 April 1945 was commemorated for the first time at the Marija Gorica cemetery on Sunday.

The commemoration was organised by the Kali Sara association of Roma in Croatia, which also refurbished the memorial in cooperation with the Marija Gorica municipality and Roma MP Veljko Kajtazi.

He said one of the biggest Ustasha crimes against Roma and Sinti was committed here at the time of the Nazi-styled Independent State of Croatia and that little was known and talked about it until now.

It was long thought and misinterpreted that the victims were Jews from Germany and Austria, and that the crime was committed by the SS, Kajtazi said. But the crime was committed by Ustasha units from Jasenovac, he added.

"By refurbishing the memorial, we wish to acquaint the public with the historical facts and the tragedy of the Roma during WWII", Kajtazi said.

"The Nazi policy against Roma and Jews resulted in their systematic persecution in these parts, which we must always remember so that it never happens again", he added.

"We have the moral obligation and the political duty to commemorate with dignity all victims of Ustasha crimes and to stamp out everywhere any trace of Nazism and the exclusion of others on ethnic grounds", Kajtazi said.

"This refers in particular to the victims who were anonymous or forgotten until now, such as the 43 Roma killed in Hrastina", he said, adding that the plan was to exterminate an entire people.

The president of the SABA association of antifascists and antifascist fighters, Franjo Habulin, said the truth needed repeating so that it was not forgotten, and that today were being honoured innocent people killed by Ustasha criminals, a regime, he warned, said to have been an aspiration of Croatian citizens.

"But it was not nor could it have been, he said, adding that the victims were innocent people due to a racial law according to which some did not have the right to live."

"It is therefore our duty to keep remembering them so that the darkness of historical revisionism of the past 30 years does not cover them up", Habulin said.

"The people we are honouring as well as many others gave their tomorrow for our today, let's be grateful to them and respect their sacrifice", he added.

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Monday, 13 September 2021

Memorial Plaque Placed in Karlovac at Site of Former Synagogue

ZAGREB, 13 Sept 2021 - The city of Karlovac on Sunday held a ceremony of placing a memorial plaque at the site of the former synagogue which was built 150 years ago in that Croatian city and demolished in 1960.

Addressing the ceremony, Israeli Ambassador to Croatia Ilan Mor said that the contribution of Jews to Karlovac, Croatia, Europe, and the world must not be forgotten.

Croatian rabbi Luciano Moše Prelević said a Jewish prayer which, he explained, he always prays when commemorating  "the disappearance of the Jewish community" in a certain area.

Ambassador Mor thanked the president of the association "Jews in Karlovac", Tena Bunčić, for founding the association which, with the help of Karlovac County and the City of Karlovac, reconstructs the life of the Jewish community in Karlovac.

In this way, the great contribution of Jews in Karlovac and other cities in Croatia to the development of cultural and economic prosperity is saved from falling into oblivion, he said.

The ambassador wished all Jews a happy Jewish New Year.

The head of the Zagreb Jewish Community, and the coordinator of the Jewish communities in Croatia, Ognjen Kraus, wished that "something be done for a better future, apart from talking about graves", and he spoke about the suffering of Karlovac Jews in Ustasha camps in 1941 and later.

Karlovac Mayor Damir Mandić said that Karlovac is an open city that nurtures the coexistence, and County Prefect Martina Furdek Hajdin said it was important that history, as the teacher of life, be objective and impartial, "that the fate of Jews acts as a reprimand, and that we should be grateful for the indelible mark of Jews in the economic and cultural development of this area".

The culture ministry's official, Davor Trupković, said that they were trying to contribute to a better presentation of historical data and multiculturalism and multireligiousness, that the Jewish cemetery in Karlovac was an important reminder, and that numerous cultural goods spoke about the Jewish community in Karlovac as an integral part of the city.

Tena Bunčić, the initiator of this event, is the great-granddaughter of the conductor of the first Croatian choral group "Zora" (Dawn), David Meisl. Bunčić said that while researching the life of her great-grandfather she had discovered how much the Jewish community had contributed to Karlovac. That contribution, she added, is the fruit of their love to this city. That is why she founded the association "Jews in Karlovac", through which the memories of that community are renewed.

Kraus told Hina that there were now about 10% of ethnic Jews in Croatia compared to their number before World War II.

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Thursday, 2 September 2021

Holocaust Memorials Put Up in Čakovec, Prelog

ZAGREB, 2 Sept 2021 - Memorials honoring Holocaust victims were put up in the northern Croatian towns of Čakovec and Prelog on Wednesday, with Israeli Ambassador Ilan Mor expressing hope that the memorials, called Stolpersteine (stumbling blocks), would prompt young people to ask themselves who those victims were. 

The Stolpersteine placed in the pavement in six locations in Čakovec and two in Prelog commemorate 28 members of the Jewish community and the event was organized by the Jewish community of Čakovec, Čakovec town authorities, the town authorities of Prelog and Međimurje County.

This is an exceptional idea that pays tribute to all families and innocent victims of the Holocaust, Ambassador Mor said, adding that the memory of the victims continued to live in the cities where their names were inscribed in public areas.

The head of the Jewish community in Čakovec, Andrej Pal, said that "certain historical facts falling into oblivion or even being denied contributes to the disappearance of the community that lived and worked in this area and helped develop it."

Pal noted that before World War II 1,200 Jews lived in Međimurje, of whom 700 were killed or went missing during the war.

Međimurje County head Matija Posavec said that with Holocaust remembrance Međimurje was being promoted as a tolerant, open and humane region.

"We have organized The Week of Jewish Culture, the local museum has organized numerous exhibitions, Eva Panich Nahir is an honorary citizen of Čakovec, and the State Archive has restored the Jewish register of births, marriages, and deaths, simply because Jews have left an important mark on Međimurje's economy, culture and overall development," said Posavec.

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