Monday, 24 June 2019

Victims of Jadovno WWII Death Camp Commemorated

ZAGREB, June 24, 2019 - A ceremony was held in Jadovno, about 20 kilometres west of the central town of Gospić, to commemorate over 10,000 Serbs, Jews, Roma and Croats killed in an Ustasha-run concentration camp there in 1941.

The commemoration was organised by the Serb National Council, the coordinating body of Jewish communities in Croatia, the Serb Orthodox Eparchy of Upper Karlovac and the Alliance of Anti-Fascist Fighters and Anti-Fascists (SABA), whose leaders warned of war crimes committed by the Nazi-allied Ustaha regime being denied in present-day Croatia.

"We want the whole truth about these horrifying death camps to reach the Croatian public and the international community, especially young people who know nothing about them, neither what the (Ustasha-ruled) Independent State of Croatia (NDH) was nor what it was founded upon," said the coordinator of the Jewish communities of Croatia, Ognjen Kraus.

Kraus warned of groups systematically denying that the NDH was a criminal creation, stressing that they were being assisted in this by media and political office holders.

"A few days ago, the president of Croatia received representatives of the pro-Ustasha initiative Hrvatski Obredni Zdrug Jazovka for whom Jadovno is a lie," Kraus said, emphasising that all war crimes should be condemned but should be differentiated and never equated. "It should be made clear who was the victim and who the executioner, who was the fighter and victor and who the criminal and defeated."

The head of the Serb National Council, Milorad Pupovac, also brought attention to the downplaying of war crimes committed by the Ustasha regime, wondering if there was any other country in the EU where the prime minister was called the murderer of Croatia and Croats because he had sent a wreath to commemorate Partisans killed during the 1943 Battle of Sutjeska.

Pupovac said that what was left of the ethnic groups who had suffered at the hands of Ustashas would continue to oppose those who kept denying Ustasha crimes and glorifying the Ustasha regime.

Criticising state officials for not attending today's ceremony, Pupovac said it was not enough to visit Jasenovac, while ignoring more than 50 other Ustasha concentration camp sites such as those in Koprivnica, Kerestinec, Đakovo, Lobor Grad, Sisak and Jastrebarsko. He said that the Jadovno camp was the cruellest of them all.

SABA president Franjo Habulin said that a lot of problems had accumulated in Croatia that needed addressing, such as history textbooks, anti-fascist monuments and Catholic clergy saying Mass for fascist criminals.

He welcomed Saturday's speech by the prime minister's envoy, Justice Minister Dražen Bošnjaković, at the Anti-Fascist Struggle Day commemoration in Brezovica Forest near Sisak.

"It is encouraging that Minister Bošnjaković said yesterday that the government condemns the Ustasha regime and the crimes it committed in World War II. It is an unambiguous message that present-day Croatia is not a successor to the NDH, but a country founded on anti-fascist values and the anti-fascist victory in World War II," Habulin said.

Wreaths at the monument in Jadovno were laid by delegations of Croatia, Serbia and Israel, as well as delegations of religious communities and anti-fascist organisations. The commemoration was attended by about 300 people. The religious service for Serb victims was led by Serb Orthodox Metropolitan Porfirije Perić and Bishop Gerasim, while that for Jews was led by Chief Rabbi Luciano Moše Prelević.

More news about the Second World War events can be found in the Politics section.

Sunday, 23 June 2019

Presidential Envoy Booed at Jazovka Commemoration

ZAGREB, June 22, 2019 - About 300 people gathered at the Jazovka pit near Sošice near the Slovenian border, about 70 kilometres west of Zagreb, to commemorate victims of communist crimes committed in the aftermath of World War II.

The ceremony was addressed, among others, by Ante Deur, the envoy of President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović under whose auspices this year's memorial pilgrimage took place. His speech was interrupted by loud whistles and abusive language from those gathered.

Whistles began when Deur said that President Grabar-Kitarović was continuing the first Croatian president Franjo Tuđman's policy of national reconciliation under the slogan of unity. "It is obvious how difficult it is to build unity. We need to make extra effort to consolidate our unity on what is historically unquestionable, and that is the idea of nation-building."

Ivan Vukelić of the Hrvatski Obredni Zdrug (HOZ) organisation, which organised the commemoration, said that "the false holiday of the 1941 anti-Croatian and Yugoslav communist uprising" was being celebrated today in Brezovica Forest near Sisak.

He said that this national holiday commemorated "Croatian Stalinists who on this day, together with Chetnik and Italian fascists, started killing all Croats. Those people there who call themselves anti-fascists, with full state honours, are having an orgy over the bones of several thousand Croats killed."

Vukelić claimed that 1,500 pits similar to Jazovka had been discovered so far, including 600 in Slovenia. He said that HOZ had called for establishing an independent institution to exhume the victims and give them a decent burial.

Vukelić said that HOZ was demanding lustration and constitutional changes, insisting that the 1991-1995 Homeland War be recognised as the only source of Croatia's statehood. He said that all references to the World War II anti-fascist struggle should be removed from the future constitution.

Commenting on the boos and whistles during Deur's speech, MP Zlatko Hasanbegović told reporters that "obviously some people gathered here are not satisfied with the President's actions, but that is not crucial, because this is a commemorative and not a political party gathering."

This is a reminder to all Croatian politicians that in their activity they must follow the will of the Croatian people as the measure of all things, he said.

"The key message is that any flirting with any relic of Yugoslav communism, even in the form of apocryphal anti-fascism, is unacceptable and contrary to the fundamental fact that the modern Croatian state rests solely on the national will of our generation and the victory in the Homeland War. Any Croatian state is a negation of any Yugoslavia, a democratic order is a negation of communism. These blatant facts cannot be downplayed by any manipulation of the term anti-fascism," Hasanbegović said.

He added that Yugoslav communism was the only form of anti-fascism which the Croatian people had known in 1945, as opposed to other European nations.

More news about the Second World War can be found in the Politics section.

Saturday, 22 June 2019

Anti-Fascist Struggle Day Commemorated in Brezovica near Sisak

ZAGREB, June 22, 2019 - A ceremony was held in the Brezovica Forest Memorial Park near Sisak, about 60 kilometres southeast of Zagreb, on Saturday to commemorate Anti-Fascist Struggle Day.

The ceremony, organised by national, regional and local anti-fascist organisations, started with the playing of the Croatian and European anthems and a minute of silence was observed for those killed in World War II.

"Had it not been for the anti-fascist struggle, we would have had nothing to defend, and in the (1991-1995) Homeland War we successfully defended the Republic of Croatia," said the head of the Alliance of Anti-Fascist Fighters and Anti-Fascists of Croatia (SABA), Franjo Habulin.

Seventy-eight years ago, the First Partisan Detachment was formed in Brezovica which "fanned the flames of uprising," he said and added: "We must not close our eyes to what is happening around us."

Habulin expressed concern about "little progress" made in Croatia regarding the perception of anti-fascism.

This year's ceremony was held without the presence of top state officials, who sent their envoys. Among those attending were former presidents Ivo Josipovic and Stjepan Mesić and former SDP prime minister and leader Zoran Milanović, who were all greeted with loud applause.

The First Sisak Partisan Detachment was formed on June 22, 1941 as the first anti-Hitler unit in Nazi-occupied Europe and it marked the beginning of the armed struggle for national liberation in Croatia. It was established by Communist Party members in Sisak on the day Nazi Germany attacked the Soviet Union and initially had 77 fighters.

Croatia has observed Anti-Fascist Struggle Day on June 22 since it gained independence in the early 1990s.

President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović has extended her best wishes for Anti-Fascist Struggle Day. "A large part of the Croatian people and citizens of other nationalities sided with the anti-fascist resistance against the occupation by the Axis Powers during World War II.

"By the decisions of the State Anti-Fascist Council for the National Liberation of Croatia (ZAVNOH), the Federal State of Croatia established within the former federal community of States was the expression of the continuity and the aspirations of Croatian anti-fascists to preserve Croatian Statehood, becoming a State legal basis for the proclamation and international recognition of the independent Republic of Croatia, which we defended and liberated in the Homeland War as a historical expression of the Croatian people’s lasting aspiration for an independent State," Grabar-Kitarović said in her message on Saturday.

More news about Second World War and Croatia can be found in the Politics section.

Saturday, 22 June 2019

Plenković Issues Message on the Occasion of Anti-Fascist-Struggle Day

ZAGREB, June 22, 2019 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on Friday issued a message on the occasion of Anti-Fascist Struggle Day saying that Croatian anti-fascists had made their contribution to the victory over Nazism and Fascism in World War II, which laid the ground for today's democratic and united Europe.

On the occasion of June 22, we recall the day when in 1941 the first antifascist unit was formed in the Brezovica forest near Sisak in the then occupied Europe. Numerous Croatian antifascists, whom we remember today, made their contribution to the victory over Nazism and Fascism in World War II, which was the precondition to build today's democratic and united Europe.

With the establishment of an independent, free and democratic Croatia, the victory in the Homeland War and full membership of the North Atlantic Alliance and European Union, we have become equal stakeholders in building a common European future and preserving the universal values of peace, freedom and human rights, the prime minister wrote in his message.

More Second World War news can be found in the Politics section.

Thursday, 20 June 2019

Jewish Community: Zagreb Monument to Holocaust Victims to Conceal Truth

ZAGREB, June 20, 2019 - The Jewish Community of Zagreb (ŽOZ) has called for an annulment of the "shameful" decision by the Zagreb City Assembly to erect a monument to Holocaust victims in Zagreb because it believes that its purpose is to conceal the truth about the killings of Jews in WWII Croatia.

ŽOZ said in a statement that the aim is to downplay the significance and gravity of crimes committed against tens of thousands of Jews based on racial laws in the Ustasha-ruled Independent State of Croatia (NDH) in 1941-1945 by insisting on the theme that covers six million Jews killed worldwide.

ŽOZ said it had suggested building a monument in tribute to Holocaust victims who perished in the NDH and that it would also support a monument to all victims of NDH racial laws, including Roma, Serbs, Jews, antifascists and opponents of the Ustasha regime.

"There is no place for a monument to six million Jewish in Zagreb and Croatia because such a monument already exists in Berlin. Respecting this fact, European countries have marked the killings of Jews on their respective territories with monuments and memorials, always and without exception with the consent of and through cooperation with the local Jewish community," ŽOZ said, calling on the Zagreb City Assembly to repeal its "shameful" decision.

In a letter addressed to Zagreb City Assembly chairman Drago Prgomet, ŽOZ president Ognjen Kraus expressed their opposition to erecting such a monument, saying that this decision should not have been adopted without respecting their opinion.

ŽOZ said they had discussed the matter with Mayor Milan Bandić several times and that he had promised to respect their view, adding that the matter had also been raised at their meeting with the prime minister. They recalled that they had issued several public statements about the matter clearing expressing their disagreement with the idea.

On June 4 the Zagreb City Assembly decided to erect a monument in Branimirova Street near the Central Railway Station to commemorate six million Jews killed in the Holocaust.

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

Monday, 27 May 2019

Zagreb to Get a Monument to Holocaust Victims

If the City Assembly accepts the proposal, a monument to Holocaust victims should be built at Branimirova Street in Zagreb. The memorial, designed by Dalibor Stošić and Krešimir Rogina, would serve to keep the memory of six million Jews killed during the Holocaust with a message that the past must not be repeated, reports Večernji List on May 27, 2019.

Zagreb mayor Milan Bandić proposed the decision to be made at the next session of the city assembly that will be held on June 4. The proposal points out that the City of Zagreb will construct the monument to the Holocaust victims according to the urbanistic-architectural solution proposed by sculptor Dalibor Stošić and architect Krešimir Rogina, who won the public competition. The memorial will be financed from the city budget and be erected on the land in the city centre owned by the Croatian Railways Infrastuktura company, which has given its consent.

“The monument to Holocaust victims is a gesture of memory for six million Jewish victims of the Holocaust with a message that the past must not be repeated. Holocaust was a systematic and organized persecution of the Jews, committed by the Third Reich and their allies from 1933 to 1945,” explains the draft decision.

The monument is conceived as a wall made of suitcases, creating a strong associative link with the Wailing Wall (Western Wall) in Jerusalem. “Before deportation, the Jews were told to pack a suitcase and carry only the most essential things with them. After arriving at the train station, the Nazis would order them to leave them there, with the promise they would be sent later.” The explanation says that the idea of a monument with about three hundred suitcases at the Zagreb Main Station as the place of departure and arrival is a metaphor for lives taken. One of the steps in the deprivation of humanity was the seizure of personal belongings, valuables and memories. The suitcases are a reminder of people’s stolen humanity.

The site will consist of two essential elements of a concrete base and the iron monument itself. It will comprise of a solid, horizontal, dark grey concrete surface measuring 12 x 24 metres, 35 centimetres thick, raised 5 centimetres above the walking level. The concrete will be impressed by a multitude of stars of David.

The base will allow people to sit along its edge, making the whole monument an integral part of the urbanity of the location. The memorial will also have special lighting.

More Zagreb news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Translated from Večernji List.

Sunday, 12 May 2019

Antifascists Ask Austrian Authorities to Ban "Neo-Nazi rally" in Bleiburg

ZAGREB, May 12, 2019 - Antifascists from Austria, Croatia, Italy and Slovenia on Saturday staged a protest rally in Bleiburg, Austria, asking the Austrian government to ban what they described as a gathering of "Ustashas and fascists" in the Loibach field near that town in the southern region of Carinthia.

The Honorary Bleiburg Platoon nongovernmental organisation traditionally organises in May, and the Croatian Parliament sponsors, a commemoration for civilians and soldiers of the defeated pro-Nazi Independent State of Croatia killed in the aftermath of World War II.

Last year Austrian police introduced harsh penalties for participants in the commemoration who display Ustasha and Nazi symbols, and the local church in Carinthia recently denied permission for the commemoration to be held as a religious gathering, saying that it harms the reputation of the Catholic Church.

Speakers at today's protest, which drew about 150 people and was held in the central square in Bleiburg, asked the Austrian government to respect its constitution and the European policy of fighting fascism and neo-fascism, and to ban the commemoration, which is to be held on May 18.

"We have gathered again this year to raise our voice against an event that is being promoted as a gathering of believers who want to pay tribute to innocent victims killed in the aftermath of WWII, but it is not that," said Franjo Habulin, head of the Association of Antifascist Fighters and Antifascists of Croatia (SABA).

"The gathering in Bleiburg is nothing but a lament for the failed Ustasha para-state, a movement and ideology that severely compromised Croatia's name and left a blood trace," said Habulin. He said that "both the Catholic Church in Croatia and the Croatian state are participating in that deceit."

"Any family has the right to mourn their loved ones who were killed, regardless of who they were or how they ended up. However, no civilised European country has the right to participate in commemorating the fall of Nazi-Fascism. And gatherings in Bleiburg serve exactly that purpose, with the blessing of the Church in Croatia," said Habulin.

Representatives of World War II antifascist fighters from Italy, Slovenia and Austria, too, spoke against the Bleiburg commemoration.

The commemoration in Bleiburg has been held since 1952, and since 1995 it has been held under the auspices of the Croatian parliament, with the exception of the period from 2012 to 2015 when the Social Democratic Party was in power.

The Honorary Bleiburg Platoon on Monday called on all who planned to attend the commemoration to refrain from using any symbols or chants that are in contravention of Croatian and Austrian laws.

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

Thursday, 9 May 2019

Immortal Partisan Detachment March Held in Zagreb

ZAGREB, May 9, 2019 - About a hundred people participated in the Immortal Partisan Detachment march that was held for the second consecutive year in Zagreb on Wednesday to mark Liberation of Zagreb Day, Victory Over Fascism Day and Europe Day.

Speaking on behalf of the organisers, the head of the Alliance of Antifascist Fighters and Antifascists (SABA), Franjo Habulin, said that the events being commemorated on Wednesday and Thursday were interrelated. "Had there been no victory over fascism, there would have been no Europe Day," he said.

He recalled that on 8 May 1945 Partisan units of the Yugoslav army had liberated Zagreb, ending the four-year rule of the Nazi-allied Ustasha regime.

"Today there are those who say that with the entry of the Partisans into Zagreb, Zagreb was occupied by the Yugoslav army. They say that Croatian citizens were not allowed to speak Croatian and that we were not allowed to play the Croatian anthem. That is a blatant lie!" Habulin said.

He said that only Ustasha sympathisers could say that Zagreb had been occupied on 8 May, adding that historical revisionists were deceiving the citizens with their lies, especially young people.

The organisers said that a similar initiative, called the Immortal Regiment, had first been launched in the Russian city of Tomsk on 9 May 2012 and has since spread to 91 countries across the globe.

The Zagreb march was attended by Russian Ambassador Anvar Azimov, who said he was proud that Victory Day was celebrated together. "Today's event has important political significance. It is a remembrance day for those to whom we owe a debt, and our debt is to remember the soldiers of the countries that opposed fascism and liberated Europe," the ambassador told those gathered.

Azimov said that the Yugoslav Partisans had the support of the Red Army, adding that over 10,000 Soviet soldiers had been killed on Croatian soil and 28 million in the world.

He, too, said that recent years had seen falsification of history. "The role of the Partisans and the Soviet Union in the victory is being downplayed, while at the same time there is a trend towards guerrillaisation of fascism," the Russian ambassador said.

More news about the Second World War in Croatia can be found in the Politics section.

Wednesday, 8 May 2019

Antifascists Mark Zagreb Liberation Anniversary

ZAGREB, May 8, 2019 - On the occasion of the 74th anniversary of the liberation of Zagreb from fascist occupation, candidates of the We Can! political platform, the New Left and the ORaH party, who are running together in elections for the European Parliament, on Wednesday displayed on one of the Zagreb bridges a banner reading "Antifascists of Europe, Unite", telling citizens that despite new fascistisation trends, plans for building a Europe of equal people must not be given up.

"It is exceptionally important to mark Zagreb City Day, the day which marked the closing of the possibly most shameful page in Croatia's history - the Independent State of Croatia," Rada Borić of the New Left told a news conference in Zagreb.

She recalled that Europe Day would be marked on May 9 to commemorate "the end of the fascist terror in Europe", and expressed regret about the downplaying of Croatia's past and signs of real fascism. In that context, she cited attacks on Roma by skinheads throughout Europe, calls by sports fans in Croatia for the lynching of those who are different, and the cult of nation and traditionalism, which, she said, particularly restrict women's rights.

Borić added that because of this one had to show that Europe could be different and that Europeans had to be equal.

Sandra Benčić of the We Can! platform recalled European Parliament President Antonio Tajani's statement "Long live Italian Istria and Dalmatia", made at a commemoration for Italians killed in the aftermath of World War II, saying that such statements were prompted by the glorification of Ustasha ideology in Croatia.

"Croatia does have people who always oppose fascism. Resistance to fascism today and tomorrow," Benčić said.

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

Thursday, 21 March 2019

President to Visit Jasenovac Memorial on Her Own

ZAGREB, March 21, 2019 - Commenting on statements by representatives of ethnic minorities that again this year again they would not attend the government-sponsored commemoration of victims of the World War II Jasenovac concentration camp, President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović said that she regretted "ideological divisions and that we are constantly going back to the past instead of focusing on issues of everyday life" and that she would therefore go to Jasenovac "to pay tribute to the victims in silence" again this year.

Speaking of the problems of everyday life one should focus on, Grabar-Kitarović said: "They are the problems of 3. Maj dock workers and their families, subcontractors, the Uljanik Group, and all other businesses in the country - micro, small and medium-sized - as well as big state-owned companies, let alone pensioners' problems."

"I'm quite upset that we are putting those divisions in the centre of political debate," she said during a visit to Rijeka.

Grabar-Kitarović went on to say that everyone had recognised that regimes such as Fascism, Communism and Nazism were criminal. "Tribute should be paid to all victims," she said.

"I said that I would attend the Jasenovac commemoration if we all go together. We all commemorate the victims and everyone does it in their own way, which makes no sense. I will go there to bow in silence to the victims because they deserve that," Grabar-Kitarović said.

Asked about the situation in the ailing Uljanik shipbuilding group, the president said that analyses were being made as to whether the group should file for bankruptcy or be restructured. "I hope a restructuring of some kind will be chosen because... the shipbuilding industry is one of the strategic Croatian industries, however, it cannot continue the way it has operated so far," she said, adding that Croatian shipyards evidently could not compete with Asian shipyards and had to specialise and find a niche, to rely on domestic experts and know-how and to start building smaller vessels.

As for announcements that Zagreb University would grant an honorary doctorate to Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandić, which has been strongly criticised by some political parties, Grabar-Kitarović said that the decision concerned "the relationship between Bandić and Zagreb University, and universities are autonomous."

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

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