Received this morning from Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Israel Director Efraim Zuroff (bold emphasis added): “Wiesenthal Center Expresses Outrage At Massive Outburst of Nostalgia for Croatian Fascism at Zagreb Rock Concert

Jerusalem – The Simon Wiesenthal Center today expressed its sense of outrage and disgust in the wake of a massive show of fascist salutes, symbols and uniforms at a rock concert by popular ultra-nationalist Croatian singer “Thompson” attended by 60,000 people in Zagreb last night. In a letter sent today to Croatian President Stjepan Mesic, the Center’s chief Nazi-hunter Israel director Dr. Efraim Zuroff noted the presence of Croatian dignities, including the Minister of Science, Education and Sports, at the event and called for the banning of concerts by singers like Thompson who glorify fascism and racism. According to Zuroff:

“According to the Croatian media, the concert turned into a massive fascist demonstration with tens of thousands of people shouting the infamous Ustasha salute of “Za dom spremni.” In addition,… numerous participants came wearing Ustasha uniforms and symbols. To make matters worse, in attendance last night were officials and members of Parliament, as well as the Minister of Science, Education [!!] and Sports.

“Under the current circumstances, I believe that the time has come to prohibit public concerts by those who write songs of nostalgia for Jasenovac and inspire the show of Ustasha symbols, which constitute open and blatant incitement against all the minorities in Croatia.”

Here is the just-released AFP report. This development comes as I was about to post the following:

After a soccer match last month between two local teams in the town of Jasenovac, Croatia — infamous for its particularly sadistic WWII concentration camps — Croatian fans sang an old tune that glorifies the butchers of the Hitler-aligned Independent State of Croatia, known as the Ustashe. According to a Croatian newspaper (in translation):

Marina Lovric, Commissioner of the Sisak district has sharply denounced singing of the Ustasha song “Jasenovac and Stara Gradiska” after a soccer match in Jasenovac, while the police were questioning a wide array of individuals. According to a statement from the visiting team from the village of Odar, near Sisak, the song…was played over the loudspeakers after the game, without any reaction from the municipal authorities or representatives of the provincial soccer federation.

The Wikipedia version of the song was coined in 1942 as a glorification of Nazism, but a reworked version by the band “Thompson” a few years ago favorably compares Croatia’s nationalist and anti-Jewish 1990s president Franjo Tudjman with WWII Nazi leader and Ustashe founding member Ante Pavelic, although Pavelic remains the favorite Croatian son of folks like Thompson (also the stage name of the lead singer Marko Perkovic). From Wikipedia:

Many of Thompson’s songs (such as “Lijepa li si”) have become major hits in Croatia, and are played at football games and other large events. He has [been] performing annually on Victory and Homeland Thanksgiving Day, with all benefits going to families of Croatian soldiers. Thompson has won the Croatian music competitions Melodije Mostara (in 2001) and the Croatian Radio Festival (in 2006).

He is also controversial, as he openly promotes Ustasha ideology, wears black uniforms and salutes in corresponding way, and performed Ustashe songs such as Jasenovac i Gradiška Stara…. He has been banned from performing in the Netherlands due to allegedly fascist lyrics.

The lyrics to the song, more or less as sung at the game last month, follow below — but first some quick references you’ll need:

Stara Gradiška: “the fifth subcamp of the Jasenovac concentration camp…The camp was specially constructed for women and children of Jews, Gypsies, Serbs, and guerrillas. Eventually more than 50,000 men, women and children were incarcerated and then massacred by the Ustaše in the medium camp….All of the women guards were sisters or wives of the male guards and they were known throughout the camp for their cruelty.”

Maks: Vjekoslav “Maks” Luburić, Jasenovac camp commander

Capljina: a town in Bosnia-Herzegovina near the Neretva River

Imotski: a town in Croatia’s Dalmatian hinterland

Black uniforms of Jure Francetic: This refers to the elite unit called Black Legion, which made up the 1st and 5th Ustaše Brigades during WWII and whose uniforms were black, unlike other Ustaše units. Led by Commander Jure Francetic.

Lady Sinjska: a protective Slavic goddess.

“Take away Stipe…”: Stipe is Stjepan Mesic, the current president of Croatia, whose recent record includes many anti-Fascist statements and attempts to coax Croatia to fess up to its WWII and 1990s crimes.

Racan: Ivica Racan, the recently departed Croatian prime minister who was less nationalist than the Tudjman mold.

Metkovic: a town near the Neretva River, into which Serb bodies were dumped by the Ustashe.

Jasenovac and Stara Gradiška,
That’s the house of Maks’s butchers.
There was a slaughterhouse in Čapljina,
Neretva carried away many Serbs (from there).

O Neretva, flow downhill,
And carry the Serbs into the blue Adriatic.
Through Imotski trucks rush,
Driving the black uniforms of Jure Francetić.

I am Ustasha and so was my father,
Father left the craft to his son…
Whoever said that Black Legion is not coming back,
May his father fuck him.

Lady Sinjska, if you can, take away Stipe and bring back our Franjo.
O Racan, may a dog fuck your mother, and the ones who voted for you.
Shining star above Metković,
Send our greetings to Ante Pavelić.

You can hear the rocked-up version of the song set to an illuminating visual aid. Go to the Croatian version of YouTube, called CroTube and see a video montage that includes Hitler-Pavelic greetings and hollowed-out Serbian bodies floating in a river, which may or may not be the Neretva.

The AFP reports that at Sunday’s concert, Thompson refrained from making pro-Ustasha references and Hitler-style salutes.