Monday, 17 February 2020

Zagreb to Host Conference on Anti-Fascism and Fascism

ZAGREB, February 17, 2020 - The SABA RH antifascist alliance in Croatia will organise an international conference on fascism and anti-fascism in the present-day Europe in Zagreb on 20 and 21 February.

Presenting the goals of the conference, the association's leader Franjo Habulin said at a news conference in Zagreb that the event would be part of the efforts to counter the strengthening of extreme right wing politics and more and more aggressive attacks on the values of the anti-fascist struggle, which, he said, were the biggest values of the present-day Europe.

Habulin said that the victory against the fascist regimes in 1945, after they had caused the Second World War, did not mean that fascism had disappeared from the historical scene.

He also pointed out that there were "more refined appearances" of fascism in a great number of European countries.

He criticised Resolution 1481 adopted by the Council of Europe in 2006 which underlined the need for international condemnation of crimes of totalitarian communist regimes as a document that equates fascism and communism. He added that that historical revisionism also originated from that document.

In the resolution 1481/2006 of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE), issued on 25 January 2006 during its winter session, the Council of Europe "strongly condemns crimes of totalitarian communist regimes". The Parliamentary Assembly refers to its Resolution 1096 (1996) on measures to dismantle the heritage of the former communist totalitarian systems. The paper condemned "the massive human rights violations committed by totalitarian communist regimes". It also "calls on all communist or post-communist parties in its member states which have not yet done so to reassess the history of communism and their own past, clearly distance themselves from the crimes committed by totalitarian communist regimes and condemn them without any ambiguity."

Habulin told the news conference that the rise of neo-fascism was accompanied by the process of degrading and vilifying anti-fascist fighters from the Second World War and their contemporary followers.

The organisers of the Zagreb conference have invited representatives of anti-fascist associations from 25 European countries, including 15 EU member-states.

Some of the guests will be Vilmos Hanti, the head of the International Federation of Resistance Fighters - Association of Anti-Fascists also known by its French initials FIR, as well as Dan-Viggo Bergtun, the president of the World Veterans Federation.

More history info can be found in the Politics section.

Sunday, 9 February 2020

War Veterans Hold Protest Against HSS Leader Beljak

ZAGREB, February 9, 2020 - An association of war veterans with PTSD staged a protest in Samobor on Sunday called "Stop hate speech and intolerance" at which they called on mayor and Croatian Peasant Party president Krešo Beljak to resign over "belittling the veterans' sacrifice."

Participants strongly condemned Beljak's statement that the veterans who protested in Zagreb for months a few years ago were "a few drunks," saying that constituted incitement to civil intolerance.

According to organisers' estimates, the Samobor rally drew about 1,000 protesters. They displayed a banner saying "Croatia is a state of war veterans, not thieves."

"Beljak should immediately step down from all political posts," said psychiatrist Herman Vukušić.

He warned about the high number of suicides and said two veterans died daily at the age of 53 on average.

"The goal is to stop the civil war that has been going on in Croatia for some time, but without bullets," he said, calling for stronger punishment for those who spread hate speech.

Tihomir Trešćec, president of the association, said the "hate rhetoric" was unacceptable. "Calling Croatian veterans a few drunks mustn't be acceptable rhetoric in the public sphere. Among those few drunks were the parents, wives and children of killed defenders who are right to be outraged by such a statement."

Trešćec said there should be more tolerance in public statements, notably by politicians, who he said were public figures and should watch what they said.

"They don't realise that some statements affect people deeply, notably veterans with PTSD," he said, adding that veterans from all over Croatia had come to today's protest.

Josip Mahović, a former Samobor Brigade commander, said the political elite was a criminal organisation which did not care for the public but their own interest. He recalled that Veterans Minister Tomo Medved said he would move a law on the protection of the Homeland War that would envisage punishment for inappropriate statements.

Željko Kekić, a former agent of the Yugoslav secret service UDBA, said many went into the Homeland War under the salute "For the homeland ready", an Ustasha salute that was shouted at today's rally.

"Who has the strength to ban you from saying it? We live in a grotesque state that we didn't want," Kekić said.

Croatian Peasant Party (HSS) president Krešo Beljak said on Sunday he was not impressed by today's veterans' protest in Samobor, calling it an introduction into the election campaign that involved activists from the ruling party and saying he was not intimidated by that.

"They are panicking over what the HSS is advocating, to check the origin of assets and to review pensions, not necessarily veterans' pensions. Someone feels threatened. Why should you or I fear a law whereby how someone acquired their assets would be checked," Beljak said on a Croatian Television talk show.

"Those protesting today are self-proclaimed representatives of all veterans and I ask them, Where were you and why didn't you protest when this state was being plundered during privatisation and today when there are scandals?" Beljak said.

He said he never said anything inappropriate against the Homeland War and that he "never called veterans a few drunks," but "the people... who were harassing all of Zagreb and were toppling the then government (and) harassing former (Veterans) Minister Predrag Matić."

Beljak said he was confident the coalition of the HSS, the Social Democratic Party and some other parties "will assume responsibility for Croatia's future after the (parliamentary) election."

Speaking of upcoming intra-party elections in the ruling HDZ, he said he wanted Prime Minister Andrej Plenković to be re-elected president "because he represents reason in that party and a dam against the most conservative part of Croatia which is gaining strength."

He added, however, that he hoped Plenković would not remain prime minister after the parliamentary election.

More politics news can be found in the dedicated section.

Thursday, 6 February 2020

"The Holocaust in Croatia 1941-1945/Final Destination Auschwitz" Exhibition Opens

ZAGREB, February 6, 2020 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on Wednesday opened an exhibition on the suffering of Jews in WWII in the French Pavilion of the Zagreb Student Centre (SC), the building in front of which Jews were rounded up to be deported in railway wagons to death camps during the Second World War. Addressing the opening ceremony of the exhibition, entitled "If I forget you... The Holocaust in Croatia 1941-1945/Final destination Auschwitz", which has been prepared by the Croatian History Museum, the premier recalled that during the recent commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp, all international leaders attending the ceremony and surviving witnesses sent messages of respect for the victims of that death factory where more than a million people had been killed.

Plenković added that remembering those crimes also served as a warning to mankind about the atrocities that had been committed there.

Our generation that despite everything experienced war atrocities and reappearance of ethnic cleansing on European soil three decades ago, has an additional responsibility, apart from the condemnation of such insane acts in which the negation of humanity culminated, he added.

The venue where the exhibition is staged was, at the time of the Independent State of Croatia (NDH), a site of particular suffering of Jews from Zagreb and other Croatian regions, who were rounded up here to be deported in railway wagons to concentration camps, not only to Auschwitz but also to other camps and execution sites in the NDH, particularly Jasenovac, the premier recalled.

He stressed that one cannot allow such things to sink into oblivion and that forgetting the crimes means the negation of human beings and humanness.

Plenković went on to say that an act of forgetting happened every time when "we as individuals or the community fail to stand up against any form of discrimination and speak up loud and clear to protect human dignity, equality and dialogue loud and clear."

Plenković says that "we forget every time when we fail to clearly speak about the Holocaust, notably about the consequences of the undemocratic, totalitarian and racist Ustasha regime in Croatia from 1941 to 1945."

He underscored that the exhibition unequivocally pointed to the system of terror established in areas under the control of the Ustasha regime against the Jewish, Roma and Serb people as well as against Croat antifascists and democrats who stood up against that regime.

"The exhibition is in line with the government's endeavours, policy and attitude," he said.

"The free and democratic Croatia has been and is always ready to present the painful and tragic topics from its past and express clear legal, political and civilizational condemnation of the NDH," the premier said.

"This is one more opportunity for us to remember all brave individuals who risked their lives to save their neighbours," Plenković said, pointing to 117 Croatians included among the Righteous Among the Nations of whom Croatians are proud.

"I am referring here also to the Blessed Alojzije Stepinac who demonstrated uncommon courage in the then Europe and helped save many Jews," Plenković said.

The museum's director, Matea Brstilo Rešetar, said that it was the duty of "this museum, as a national and specialised institution, to highlight topics such as the Holocaust."

"It was especially challenging to state the exhibition at the authentic venue," Brstilo Rešetar said, referring to the fact that Jews were first taken in groups to the site of the pavilion from where they were transported by rail to Auschwitz.

One of the speakers at the ceremony was Oleg Mandić who survived deportation from Zagreb to concentration camps.

The museum says on its website that for the purpose of the exhibition "destinies of the killed, testimonies of the survivors, and the few preserved original objects from the camp, photographs and documents from various Croatian and international museums and archives, as well as those borrowed from the families of the victims and the Righteous Among the Nations, have been divided into four thematic units: Excommunication; Concentration and Liquidation; Auschwitz (Oswiecim) – Death Factory; and, A Sparkle in the Darkness."

The exhibition, organised by the Croatian History Museum at the proposal of the Croatian Ministry of Culture, runs until 21 April.

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

Tuesday, 4 February 2020

Exhibition on Sufferings of Jews in WWII to Be Held in Zagreb

ZAGREB, February 4, 2020 - An exhibition entitled "If I forget you... The Holocaust in Croatia 1941-1945/Final destination Auschwitz" will be staged on Wednesday in the French Pavilion of the Zagreb Student Centre, the building in front of which Jews were rounded up to be deported in railway wagons to the Auschwitz death camp.

The exhibition, running until 21 April, has been organised by the Croatian History Museum on the initiative of the Croatian Ministry of Culture. The exhibition focuses on the sufferings of Jews from Croatia during World War II, with a special emphasis on the fate of Jews deported to the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in Poland.

The museum's director, Matea Brstilo Rešetar, said at a news conference in Zagreb on Tuesday that it was the duty of "this museum, as a national and specialised institution to highlight topics" such as the Holocaust.

"It has been especially challenging to state the exhibition at the authentic venue," Brstilo Rešetar said, referring to the fact that Jews were first taken in groups to the site of the pavilion to be transported in railway wagons to the Auschwitz camp.

The museum says on its website that for the purpose of the exhibition "destinies of the killed, testimonies of the survivors, and the few preserved original objects from the camp, photographs and documents from various Croatian and international museums and archives, as well as those borrowed from the families of the victims and the Righteous among the Nations, have been divided into four thematic units: Excommunication; Concentration and Liquidation; Auschwitz (Oswiecim) – Death Factory; and, A Sparkle in the Darkness."

Brstilo Rešetar said that the museum was the right place to address those issues factually and neutrally, free of daily political discourse. She said they had been given support by many, including the co-organiser, the Croatian State Archive.

"We would like to show that the Holocaust did not happen somewhere else, somewhere far away in Europe, but here, in front of our eyes," said Nataša Mataušić, a Croatian History Museum expert who participated in the organisation of the exhibition.

The director of the Student Centre, Mirko Bošnjak, said that the Centre, which cares for 65,000 students at the University of Zagreb, was the right place at which young people could be reminded of the Holocaust and victims.

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

Monday, 27 January 2020

Plenković: Liberation of Auschwitz Marked End of Darkest Chapter in History

ZAGREB, January 27, 2020 - The liberation of the Auschwitz death camp marked the end of the darkest chapter in history, and educating young people about the Holocaust is key to building a society in which something like that will never happen again, Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Monday.

"The liberation of the camp in which over a million people were killed marked the end of the darkest chapter in European and world history," Plenković told Hina on arriving in Poland to participate, along with over 20 heads of state and government, in the commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp.

"Awareness and education of young people about historical atrocities, particularly about the Holocaust, is key so that present and future generations can build a society in which there is no room for exclusion, intolerance and violence," Plenković said.

"The unspeakable pain of Auschwitz and many other Nazi camps commits us to strongly resist any such attempts and all forms of discrimination and hatred, and to advocate the values of peace, tolerance and dialogue," he added.

The main memorial ceremony is taking place near the entrance to the Birkenau camp, known as the Gate of Death. It will be addressed by Polish President Andrzej Duda and some of the camp survivors. The head of delegations, including Plenković, will light candles at the monument there.

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

Monday, 27 January 2020

Condemnation of Holocaust Part of Croatia's Culture of Memory

ZAGREB, January 27, 2020 - On International Holocaust Remembrance Day on 27 January, Croatia's government joins in commemorating the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau in which 1.1 million people were killed with the aim of extermination of the Jews in that darkest episode of the history of the humankind.

Millions of victims of the Holocaust are the permanent admonishment to the humankind about the disastrous fallout of criminal ideologies of racism and anti-Semitism, the government says in a press release it issued on Monday.

All that also serves as the obligation of the current and future generations that are supposed to build a society free of exclusivity, intolerance and violence.

We pay due respect to the victims of the Holocaust, that horrendous genocide in which some six million Jews were killed, every time when we as individuals and as the society stand up against any form of discrimination and when we cherish the values of equality and dialogue, says the government.

We are taught about that by the glorious example of 117 Croatians who deserved the title of the Righteous Among the Nations after they risked their lives during the Holocaust to save their Jewish compatriots from extermination by the Nazis, the government says.

The awareness and education of the youth about the atrocities from the past and particularly about the Holocaust is crucial for understanding the causes and consequences of the most painful events in the European and global history, says the cabinet of the Prime Minister Andrej Plenković.

This is our human and moral obligation to bring to life the message "Never Again" on which the post-war democratic Europe was built, the government says calling for building the modern society free of any form of hatred or intolerance.

Denial of crimes is an act of denying the human being and this represents the negation of all European values and fundamental human rights. The huge pain and suffering caused by Auschwitz and many other Nazi camps bind us to resist any attempt of denying such crimes, the government says.

In this context, the government calls for remembering the notorious Ustasha-led camp in Jasenovac in which thousands of Jews and members of other ethnic group as well as Croatian anti-Fascists and democrats were killed.

The government underlines that the Jasenovac camp is the painful and tragic part of the Croatian history, and therefore remembering victims of that camp and strongly condemning that atrocity "are part of our culture of remembrance" and also a pledge for our European future.

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

Sunday, 26 January 2020

75 Carnations Laid in Zagreb's Square on Occasion of Holocaust Remembrance Day

ZAGREB, January 26, 2020 - The Anti-Fascist League of Croatia organised a rally in Zagreb's Victims of Fascism Square on Sunday to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day, observed on 27 January, and on that occasion activists laid 75 carnations on the wall of building in the square in which Ustasha police and Gestapo used to operate during WW2.

The 75 flowers were laid to mark 75 years since Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi concentration and death camp, was liberated on 27 January 1945.

International Holocaust Remembrance Day, a memorial day on 27 January commemorating the tragedy of the Holocaust that occurred during the Second World War, was designated by the United Nations General Assembly resolution in 2005. It commemorates the genocide that resulted in the deaths of 6 million Jews and 11 million others, by the Nazi regime and its collaborators.

During today's rally, activists recalled that the Holocaust had been also performed in Croatia during the Ustasha regime in the so-called Independent State of Croatia from 1941 to 1945.

The lessons about the Holocaust teach us that in the societies hit by the evil of anti-Semitism, also the doors are open for the persecution of other minorities, said the Anti-Fascist League's leader, Zoran Pusić, adding that anti-Semitism lurks in "some obscure part of the society and is potentially always present."

He said that in Croatia, some 3,000 monuments, which had been erected during the Socialist Yugoslavia in memory of the Tito-led Partisans had been destroyed in the meantime. Pusić said that the national resistance movement (NOB) in the country had been the biggest resistance against Nazi forces and local Nazi collaborators in Europe.

He also warned of the rising anti-Semitic mood in the present-day Europe recently.

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

Friday, 24 January 2020

Plenković: We Have to Work on Protecting Human Rights

ZAGREB, January 24, 2020 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and other state officials laid wreaths in the Jewish section of the Mirogoj Cemetery in Zagreb on Friday on the occasion of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which is observed on January 27, saying that Croatia needs to work on a culture of remembrance, protecting human rights and promoting tolerance in society.

"We want the reminder of this great atrocity to be carved into everyone's memory so that such crimes are never repeated. Today we have to work not only on a culture of remembrance but also on protecting human rights and promoting tolerance in society," Plenković said after the wreath-laying ceremony.

The government delegation came to pay their respects to the victims of the greatest atrocity in the history of humankind, he said, but also to remember the 117 Croatian Righteous Among the Nations who helped save Jews in those most difficult times.

Asked about complaints by minority organisations about the revival of Ustasha ideology, he said that manifestations of that kind must always be prevented.

"We are working on that because they are not the values we share. Our programme contains the highest standards of respect for human and minority rights and we will persist in that because they are the values of the free and modern Croatia," he underscored.

Rabbi Kotel Da-Don of the Jewish Bet Israel community in Zagreb said that antisemitism was on the rise in the world as never before while the sentence "let it never be repeated" was constantly being repeated.

"That shows that we have a serious problem in society and that words can no longer help. In Croatia too we have a problem if people are still convinced that 'For the Homeland Ready' means something good for Croatia," Da-Don underscored.

Asked how he thought the government was handling this, Da-Don said that he believes it has good intentions however some issues have still not been resolved.

About 6 million Jews were killed in the Holocaust, or nearly two-thirds of the Jewish population in Europe. Five million people of other ethnic groups were also killed.

In the Independent State of Croatia (NDH), which was ruled by the Nazi-allied Ustasha regime during the Second World War, of 39,000 Jews more than 30,000 were killed. Most of them perished in Ustasha-run concentration camps and about 7,000 were dispatched to Nazi death camps, most of them to Auschwitz. Fewer than 9,000 Jews survived, including about 5,000 in Croatia and 4,000 in Bosnia and Herzegovina, according to the Croatian Encyclopaedia.

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

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.

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.

Page 2 of 9