After the wife of Croatian rocker Marko Perkovic, a.k.a. Thompson, wrote a letter to Efraim Zuroff (Israel Director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center) threatening legal action over his criticisms of the Ustasha enthusiasm displayed by the singer’s fans, the following open letter from Zuroff appeared in Globus newspaper (translated from the Croatian):

11 July 2007 “An Open Letter to Marko Perkovic”

I am probably the last person you were expecting to hear from these days, but in the wake of the controversy and polemics surrounding your recent concert in Maksimir Stadium, I thought that the best way to clarify the important issues being debated would be to turn to you directly. Before I pose my questions, I have to admit that you have inspired the love and support of Croatians all over the world, many of whom have rushed to defend you against my criticism. I have received letters from Australia, Canada, Germany and other places as well as from Croatia. While some were stupid in an abusive way (spelling my family name in small letters with the exception of a big “U”) and a few were simply anti-Semitic (”Za dom spremni” and nothing else or “What have you done to stop killing poor Palestinians?”), most were written by reasonably intelligent people who are convinced that you are neither a fascist nor an anti-Semite. They claim that your sole motivation is pure and noble Croatian patriotism and love of family and the Catholic Church. They urged me to review all your lyrics to search for any trace of racism and some sent me the words of one of your songs. None of them could explain, however, why so many young people feel that your concerts are an appropriate place to appear in Ustashe uniforms and display Ustashe symbols.

Rather than attempt (without any opportunity to speak to you directly) to analyze your ideological philosophy and psychological make-up, which in my opinion hold the key to unedrstanding who you really are and being able thereby to determine whether you are part of the problem or part of the solution in insuring that Croatia will be a model democracy and not a proto-fascist state, I decided to share my concerns with you and offer you an opportunity to once and for all make clear where you stand on a number of critical issues.

Let me begin with the song “Jasenovac/Stara Gradiska.” Everyone knows that you have sung it in the past, although not at your recent concert in Zagreb. Do you have any idea how painful its lyrics are to members of minorities living in Croatia? Can you imagine how a Serb, Jew, or Gypsy whose families were decimated by the Ustashe must feel hearing someone like you, the most popular singer in Croatia, a veritable cultural icon, sing of nostalgia for Ante Pavelic? Can you understand that one can be a 100% genuine Croatian patriot and unequivocally reject the NDH and the Ustashe? Or is Croatian patriotism, in your opinion, one indivisible package which begins with the Ustashe and continues to the present with every nationalist included, regardless of whether they behaved dishonorably and/or committed atrocities? That is something that urgently needs clarification.

In this regard, the fact that you have never apologized or expressed regret for singing “Jasenovac/Stara Gradiska” is very telling. It basically means that you stand behind those lyrics which more or less glorify Ustashe murderers, call for the elimination of Serbs, the replacement of President Mesic with an ultranationalist like Tudjman and the resestablishment of the NDH. I would add that the fact that you have never spoken out against the ubiquitous displays of Ustashe symbols at your concerts is another indicator that you personally have no objection to such paraphernalia. This could be for two possible reasons. The first might be that you identify with such symbols and are a “true believer” in the Ustashe ideology of Croatian ultranationalism. A more cynical explanation might be that you realize that those sporting Ustashe symbols are your greatest supporters and for practical/utilitarian reasons, you do not want to offend them and risk losing their support. Either reason does not put your behavior in a positive light.

I hope you realize that your success brings with ita large degree of responsibilty, and especially because you have gained your popularity by addressing political issues. (if you were a celebrity because of success in sports or as a performer singing insipid love songs it would be different.) Thus many Croatians, and especially numerous youth, look to you for guidance and inspiration on the important political issues facing the country. And this is precisely why it is a tragedy if your concerts inspire displays of support or nostalgia for the Ustashe, rather than support for a pluralistic, tolerant Croatian democracy.

It is precisely because your patriotic credentials are absolutely impeccable that you must be among those who clearly and unequivocally reject the legacy of the NDH and the Ustashe. This will send a clear message to Croatians of all ages that one is not betraying his or her country by condemning the atrocities committed by the NDH and that one can be the most noble patriot by building a homeland which will be a model democracy which accepts minorities and fosters tolerance among different ethnic groups.

It is true that by doing so you will no doubt alienate at least some of your most fanatic supporters, but at the same time you will have gained something far more important-the respect and admiration of the numerous Croatians and others who until now could not have possibly identified with your message. Your forthcoming concert in Split at the end of this month would be a golden opportunity to finally let us all know what kind of future “Thompson” wants for his country.

— Dr. Efraim Zuroff

Dr. Zuroff reports that he has been “getting terrific feedback from those sympathetic to [his] arguments in Croatia and elsewhere,” and he is told that Thompson would be inviting him to his concert in Split on July 27th. (Unfortunately, that is a Friday night and Dr. Zuroff observes the Sabbath.)

Just a note on Globus, which deserves some kudos. Dr. Zuroff says that years ago as a young reporter, the publication’s current editor was “tremendously helpful” in tracking down and prosecuting Nada Sakic (female guard at the Stara Gradiska concentration camp) and in other cases that SWC was involved with in Croatia. The Wikipedia entry for Globus seems to support the newspaper’s objectivity and fair-mindedness:

The magazine was started in 1991, having some of its first issues published during the Croatian War of Independence. Originally devised as tabloid, it never took an openly chauvinist approach…and always tried to give the appearance of objectivity. Gradually, its articles began to deal with shady aspects of privatisation, abuses against ethnic Serb citizens and other topics not covered by mainstream media in Croatia. As such, Globus is credited for introducing investigative journalism in Croatia.