May 30th 2007 03:10:53 PM
From Serbia’s Tanjug news agency:
[Forensic specialist] Srboljub Zivanovic said on Wednesday, speaking at the 4th International Conference on [WWII camp] Jasenovac held in Banjaluka, that “the objective of Croat and Muslim executioners and murderers in the Jasenovac death camp had been to torture their victims as much as possible, because they enjoyed that.”
A team of forensic anthropologists, including Zivanovic, performed the exhumation and forensic analysis of the murdered victims of Jasenovac in 1964, but no filming was permitted, and the press were banned as well, in order to prevent the discovered facts from becoming public knowledge, he said.
To explain the part about preventing it from becoming public knowledge, Yugoslavia’s Communist regime was trying to do the “brotherhood and unity” thing, and so anything that had the potential to disrupt the socialist stuff — such as the murderousness of Serbia’s Croatian, Bosnian and Albanian neighbors — was kept under wraps. This in no small way had something to do with the suppression of information at the U.S. Holocaust Museum and Yad Vashem regarding Serb- and Jew-slaughter by Croatians and Muslims.
“The silence of Jewish organizations is less easily explained,” Andrew Borowiec wrote in the Washington Times in 1994, “particlarly since Nazi-hunter Simon Wiesenthal was aware of the slaughter.”
…For years the gruesome details about the systematic killing of Serbs, Jews, Croats and Gypsies in the huge camp complex of Jasenovac on the banks of the Sava River remained officially taboo.
Although documents and eyewitness accounts were at first ignored, and then mysteriously removed from international archives, the horror surpassing that of some of the worst Nazi extermination camps remains alive in the memory of a handful of survivors and of their kin.
It now appears that a vast international conspiracy involving Marshal Josip Broz Tito, founder of modern Yugoslavia, his ruling Yugoslav League of Communists, the United Nations, some Vatican officials, and even Jewish organizations strove to keep the Jasenovac story buried forever.
According to Yugoslav historicans, Tito’s reasoning was simple: Perpetuating the memory of crimes committed by pro-Nazi Croats would undermine Yugoslavia as a viable ethnic mosaic, so the truth had to be suppressed.
Tito’s watchwords were “brotherhood and unity,” and to pursue these high goals he tried to erase the chapter of Jasenovac.
The West generally went along, particularly after Tito broke with Stalin in 1948. The Vatican wanted to protect Roman Catholic Croats, who had been willing Nazi proxies in the Balkans.
Also playing a role in the suppression is the fact that, tragically yet again for the Serbs, the U.S. Holocaust Museum opened in the midst of the Balkan wars, when it was essential to portray Serbs as the principal evildoers. Therefore Serbs could not — could not — be shown to have been victims of the two groups they were now again forced to fight as the 1940s came raging back when the Soviet Union collapsed.
A more complete exhibit of WWII realities at the museum would have gone a long way to explain the 1990s conflict, and perhaps would have shamed our leaders out of the dangerous alliances they were making, which now imperil Americans and threaten a repetition of the visuals which could have served as our warning had they been shown.
The WWII exhumations continue to this day.*
* If you click on this link, you’ll see that, consistent with Balkan reporting protocol, this February AFP item doesn’t say who the exhumed victims are until the very last line — so the whole time that you’re reading, you’re assuming these are Croatian or Muslim victims of Serbs, rather than the other way around. (I described last month the sleight-of-pen reporting that has been pandemic among Balkans correspondents, quoting from Peter Brock’s book:
[Schork] wrote about a man named “Zarko Spasic” who disappeared near the village of Sipovac in Kosovo….Finally, in the eleventh paragraph of the reort, readers could figure out that Zarko Spasic was a Serb who was kidnapped and murdered by Albanian Muslims in the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA).
Maddeningly, journalists used this method of allowing presumption and mistaken inference to occur until deep into the narratives of thousands of such accounts — and long after copy editors had excised the most critical information — throughout the war reporting of the 1990s!)