Row over Croatia World War Two Memorial (From April)

A row has erupted over the Croatian Parliament’s decision to give more money to a World War Two memorial remembering fallen fascist fighters.

Croatia’s Parliament has allocated some € 69,000 for the annual honour of Croatian fascist forces killed in Austria in May 1945 while the money for the commemoration of the fascists’ victims at the Jasenovac concentration camp is just € 14,000.

[Efraim] Zuroff, a well-known activist said the move was “very disturbing” and added he considered the decision “a shameful one.”

Zuroff told Zagreb’s javno.hr that it showed Croatia cared more about killed Croats than about the murdered Serbs, Jews and Roma during Croatia’s wartime Nazi puppet regime.

Some Croatian officials justified parliament’s decision saying those in charge of the Jasenovac anniversary memorial did not ask for money, and the fund commemorating fallen fascist fighters had traditionally got less money.

Others however said the money should be equally split.

It is estimated [by Croatia] that between 1941-1945, up to 80,000 Serbs, Jews, Roma and anti-fascist Croatians were killed at Jasenovac. [Yad Vashem’s figures are closer to 500,000, and Wiesenthal Center’s are 700,000.]

In Bleiburg in Austria, some 30,000 mostly Croatian fascist troops, from the wartime Ustasha regime were killed when their independent state was crushed by the Yugoslav communists.

The estimates for both events substantially vary, with both Croat and Serb nationalists putting the victims’ figures up to 10 times higher than independent historians.

Note: Yad Vashem isn’t a Serb nationalist.

President Steps Into Croatia War Fund Row

Croatia’s President has criticised Parliament’s decision to give more money to a World War Two memorial remembering fallen fascist fighters.

“It is true that no one killed in Jasenovac was guilty for the death of anyone at Bleiburg, but many who died at Bleiburg are responsible for a number of those murdered in Jasenovac,” Stjepan Mesic said, commenting on the controversial decision.

Croatia’s Parliament on Wednesday allocated some € 69,000 for the annual honour of Croatian fascist forces killed in the Austrian town of Bleiburg in May 1945 while the money for the commemoration of the fascists’ victims at the Jasenovac concentration camp was just € 14,000.

Mesic also said the reasons behind the apparent discrepancy which said the Bleiburg memorial had received less money in the past was “a deceptive one.”

“The memorials for World War Two crimes in the former Yugoslavia should be held in Jasenovac because it was the largest killing spot in the region,” said Mesic, who himself comes from an anti-Fascist family.

However, he said, the Bleiburg killings should also be marked.

The organisation of Croatia’s young anti-Fascists joined Mesic in criticising the decision, saying “the Croatian people have never been nor will they ever become equal to the criminal Ustasha movement.” …

Croatian breakthrough still awaited: A visit by Croatian clergy to the country’s Holocaust memorial — at least for the sake of appearances, and in between pining for the return of the murderous Ustasha regime:

Croatian leader slams Church on Ustasha

Croatian Catholic officials chided Croatia’s president for saying the Church sided with the Ustasha government.

President Stjepan Mesic, speaking Sunday at commemoration for those killed at the Jasenovac concentration camp in northern Croatia, said “it is sad but true that the Ustasha had a considerable help from the majority of the Catholic Church clerics, who even today, as the last bastion, defends that regime.”

The Nazi puppet regime ran the state during World War II.

Following the ceremony, Mesic also said that “because there were Catholic priests who bloodied their hands in the NDH,” a reference to the Croatian fascist state, ‘’it would be good that the Catholic Church’s top clerics come to Jasenovac for the sake of other priests who were on the side of justice and democracy.”

In response to Mesic’s comments, the Zagreb Archbishop’s office issued a statement that said “a number of severe slanders have been thrown at the Church and its past and present position.'’ The statement compared the president’s criticism to the previous communist regime’s anti-Church rhetoric.

Officials from the Croatian Catholic Church have never attended commemorations at Jasenovac…

Croatia President Condemned By Church

Croatia’s Catholic leaders have reacted furiously to claims by the country’s President that the Church helped wartime fascists.

“Red with Rage” was the headline in Croatia’s daily Jutarnji List on the Catholic Church’s reaction to President Stjepan Mesic’s comments at Sunday’s commemoration ceremony for the people killed in Croatia’s biggest wartime concentration camp.

A statement from Kaptol, the seat of Zagreb’s Archbishop, said “a number of severe slanders have been thrown at the Church and its past and present position,” and those accusations resembled ones from communist period, the statement read.

On Sunday, speaking at the site of the Jasenovac camp where Croatia’s wartime fascists detained and killed thousands of Serbs, Jews, Roma and Croat anti-Fascists between 1941 and 1945, Mesic blamed the Church for siding with the then Nazi puppet Independent State of Croatia, NDH.

Following the ceremony, Mesic added that “because there were Catholic priests who bloodied their hands in the NDH, it would be good that top clerics from the Catholic Church come to Jasenovac for the sake of other priests who were on the side of justice and democracy.”

Croatian Catholic Church dignitaries have never been to Jasenovac to pay tribute to up to the 80,000 people murdered there. The late Pope John Paul II who visited Croatia three times never visited Jasenovac either despite openly speaking out against the crimes committed there.

On the other hand, Croatia’s clergy regularly pay honour to the fascist fighters killed by Yugoslav communists in the Austrian town of Bleiburg.

The Church’s statement said the clergy would not argue with Mesic. However, it quoted Zagreb Archbishop Josip Bozanic’s speech delivered at Bleiburg in 2007, in which he referred to Mesic’s communist past.

Following Bozanic’s statement in 2007, Mesic refused to attend last year’s Service to remember victims of the 1990s Croatian War….


Fascist Croatia’s fathers and leaders: Ante Pavelic on the far left and Roman Catholic Archbishop Aloysius Stepinac, on the far right.


Pope John Paul II, surrounded by Roman Catholic clergy, praying in front of the remains of Aloysius Stepinac, responsible for the religious-purification genocide of Serbs, Jews and Gypsies.

(Photos thanks to Byzantine Sacred Art blog)

******UPDATE******
I meant to include this other short report on the matter:

Mesic: “Jasenovac more important than Bleiburg”
17 April 2008 | 12:05 | Source: Tanjug

ZAGREB — Stjepan Mesić has criticized the Croatian parliament’s decision to spend more money on the commemoration for Bleiburg victims than Jasenovac victims.

“The fact is, not one Jasenovac victim was to blame for the Bleiburg victims, but a lot of Bleiburg victims were guilty for a lot of victims at Jasenovac,” said the Croatian president, stressing that the excuse that Jasenovac had received money earlier and Bleiburg had not, did not wash.

A commemoration for Second World War war crimes in Yugoslavia should be held in Jasenovac because it was the biggest death camp in the region, said Mesić, adding that Bleiburg, where the victims included many members of the former pro-Nazi quisling authorities, should nonetheless be commemorated too.

The parliament’s decision was also criticized by the Anti-Fascist Council.