*****UPDATE***** An anonymous reader commented:

That’s right. A full-on mass, in a church, by a member of the Catholic clergy.

Act of a renegade priest? Seems not, as further masses were held in Zagreb, and elsewhere.

The mass was attended by hundreds of Croats, wearing the obligatory Ustashe shirts, pins, and the like.

This isn’t merely about a couple of neo-fascists doing something on the street, or in the basement. This took place in actual churches. I wonder how the Catholic hierarchy will respond? If the fact that this has been happening annually, without condemnation, is anything to go by, there will be NO reaction.

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Congratulations, Europe, on your newest member. Poland, keep applauding.

No sooner did I mention Croatia’s resort town of Split than we have more standardly farcical and obnoxious news from there — and from Zagreb. As Rodney Atkinson’s note with the item put it, “The latest state with impeccable Fascist credentials to be welcomed by the European Union”:

Nazi memorial in Croatia a disgrace to Europe (Efraim Zuroff, J-Post, Jan. 4)

A service for Hitler is unthinkable. So why is the world quiet in response to a service for Ante Pavelic

Imagine for a minute that memorial masses were held in two major cities in Germany on the anniversary of the death of Adolf Hitler. Needless to say, such a ceremony would arouse fury, indignation, and widespread protests not only in Germany, but throughout the entire world. Last week, the local equivalent of such an event took place in Croatia, but instead of anger and demonstrations, not a single word of protest was heard from anywhere in the country.

I am referring to the December 28 memorial masses conducted in Zagreb and Split (and perhaps elsewhere as well) to mark the 51st anniversary of the death of Ante Pavelic, the head of state of the infamous Independent State of Croatia, created by the Nazis and their Italian allies in 1941. Following its establishment, rule was turned over to the local fascist movement, the Ustasha, headed by its Poglavnik (leader) Ante Pavelic.

During the entire course of its brief existence (1941-1945), the Ustasha sought to rid the country (which consisted of the area of today’s Croatia plus most of Bosnia-Herzegovina) of all its minorities, as well as their local political opponents. In order to do so, they established a network of concentration camps all over the country, the largest and most notorious of which was Jasenovac, located on the banks of the Sava River, southeast of Zagreb. There, many tens of thousands of innocent civilians were murdered in a variety of brutal ways, which earned the camp the nickname of the “Auschwitz of the Balkans.”

To this day, there continue to be disputes regarding the total number of civilians murdered by the Ustasha, but the number is certainly no fewer than several hundred thousand, primarily Serbs, along with Jews, Roma and anti-fascist Croats. And while all those who participated in these atrocities bear criminal responsibility, the individual with the greatest culpability was undoubtedly Ante Pavelic, who headed the most lethal regime in Axis-dominated Europe.

THE MEMORIAL masses to honor Pavelic, who died in Spain in 1959 from wounds suffered in an assassination attempt two years earlier, mark a renewal of a tradition which began in the 1990s following the reestablishment of Croatian independence. In the wake of the conviction in Zagreb of Jasenovac commandant Dinko Sakic and in response to protests by the Wiesenthal Center, the mass was stopped and the priest responsible, Vjekoslav Lasic, left Croatia.

Unfortunately, however, Lasic returned to Zagreb a few years ago and renewed his neo-fascist activity with impunity. At the funeral of Sakic, who insisted on being buried in his Ustasha uniform although in prison for his World War II crimes, it was Lasic who administered final rites. According to the Dominican priest, although Dinko Sakic did not observe all the Ten Commandments (Thou shalt not murder?), he was a model for all Croatians, and every Croat should be proud of his name.

The question now is, how does such an event to honor the memory of one of the biggest mass murderers of World War II pass with nary a word of protest or condemnation? The obvious address for such indignation would be in Croatia itself, where many people fought with Tito’s partisans against the Ustasha, and a significant sector of the population have a strong anti-fascist tradition. But the same question applies outside the country as well.

Croatia is well on its way to membership in the European Union (slated for 2013), a membership which is ostensibly contingent on the acceptance of EU values and norms. Is a memorial mass for one of Europe’s worst war criminals compatible with EU membership?

The sad truth is that in this respect, the European Union has failed miserably in dealing with the resurgence of neo-fascism and the promotion of Holocaust distortion in its post-Communist members. Once admitted to the EU (and NATO), countries like Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Hungary and Romania have begun to take active steps to rewrite their World War II histories, minimizing or attempting to hide the highly-significant role played by their nationals in Holocaust crimes, with barely a word of protest or condemnation from Brussels.

I wish I could conclude with the good news that Israel and the Jewish world have responded appropriately, but unfortunately that is not the case…

Last week’s masses in honor of Ante Pavelic are a mockery of Christian values and an insult to all the victims of the Ustasha, their relatives, friends, and people of morality and conscience the world over. The time has come for effective protests from within Croatia, as well as from the European Union, the United States and Canada, Israel and the Jewish world. That is the minimum that we owe the victims of that notorious mass murderer.

And clearly, Croatia feels perfectly secure, in the midst of a year-long accession process that still can be held up, to engage in these displays. So clearly, there is an understanding of what the EU really is. Likewise, Europe’s non-condemnation is proof-positive that permanently Nazi-loving Croatia fits right in with what we already know was a fascist design, the EU. (And, as always, one must ask: Where is the condemnation from the Vatican?)

However, the EU is still not fascist enough for a large minority of Croatians (about 35%), who are against joining the EU until its values become more “Croatian.” Indeed, as if on satirical cue, just a day after the above item came out, the term “Christian values” again came up in a Croatian context. According to Croatians, it is the imprisonment of their war criminals that constitutes “a trampling of all Christian values”:

Croatia: Rightist intellectuals aim to postpone EU referendum (AKI, Jan. 5)

More than one thousand right-leaning Croatian intellectuals have signed a petition for postponement of a referendum on joining the European Union, local media reported on Thursday.

Among the signers were university professors, academicians and former foreign minister and Croatia’s ambassador to the United Nations, Zvonimir Separovic, the reports said.

The intellectuals are campaigning for the postponement of a referendum until appeals panel of the United Nations War Crimes Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia brings final verdict in the case of two Croatian generals, Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac, accused of war crimes against Serb civilians.

Gotovina and Markac are considered national heroes by most Croats and the tribunal’s verdict sparked wide discontent and protests, pending the appeal.

It was a “historic example of dishonor and trampling of all Christian values”, the petitioners said. Croatia has its own values, “which are dying away in Europe” and the EU must stop the policy of double standards and a “racist attitude towards some nations”, the petition concluded.

Ah, and there it is again: attempts to stem charges of blatant bias by the tribunal — and therefore belatedly prosecuting some non-Serbs — constitutes “racism” against Croatians. Only in the Balkans, Folks. Only in the Balkans.