Op-Ed: Holocaust Denial on Display
Jared IsraelJared Israel is the Editor of the Emperor's New Clothes website, dedicated to analyzing patterns of lies by the media and political figures.
So, in 2001, Croatian President Stjepan Mesic visited the Knesset, where he sort of apologized (see http://emperors-clothes.com/croatia/mknesse.htm) for the clerical fascist Croatian Ustashe's murder of over 30,000 Jews.
Actually, he sort of did not apologize, since he a) never mentioned the Ustashe; b) never mentioned the murder of over 30,000; and c) began his 'apology' saying, "This is the proper place and the proper occasion to get rid of the ballast of the past," indicating how he views that hindering weight, the Holocaust.
Pursuing the appearance of reform, last November, Croatia opened an exhibition at the Jasenovac death camp in Slavonia, from which territory, by bitter irony, the Croatian army had, in 1995, driven out all Serbian civilians, thus rendering it serbenrein. They fulfilled the dream of the very Ustashe whom the exhibition is supposed to get Croats to remember, lest it "happen again"; although, having gotten rid of all Serbs, Jews and Roma, it is unclear what the Croatian clerical-fascists could do again, other than to themselves (or outside Croatia).
Here is some background for perspective on the exhibition. In June 1991, the Yugoslav Republic of Croatia, controlled by the HDZ (Croatian Democratic Union), led by Franjo Tudjman and Stjepan Mesic, launched a secessionist war that destroyed Yugoslavia. The HDZ revived symbols and policies of the Croatian Ustashe, whose base the Catholic clergy incited to hate "foreign elements" (primarily non-Catholic Serbs). In April 1941, the Ustashe had formed a German Nazi-backed state, mass murdering Serbs, Jews and Roma with a violence equaling the Einsatzgruppen of their German sponsor-allies. (Please see Encyclopedia of the Holocaust for more.)
When Tudjman and Mesic launched their Germany- and Vatican-backed secessionist war in 1991, Serbian charges that they were mobilizing the Ustasha apparatus that had flourished in the Croatian Diaspora after World War II were mocked by a world media that suppresses evidence linking Croatia to the Ustashe. Case in point: a video broadcast 9 December 2006 on Croatian TV, which shows Mesic in 1992 telling Australian-Croatians:
You see, in the Second World War, the Croats won twice and we have no reason to apologize to anyone. What they ask of the Croats the whole time, "Go kneel in Jasenovac. Kneel here..." We don't have to kneel in front of anyone for anything! We won twice and all the others only once. We won on 10 April  when the Axis Powers recognized Croatia as a state [meaning, when the Nazi invaders installed the bloodthirsty Ustashe in power! - JI], and we won because we sat after the war, again with the winners, at the winning table. -- BBC Monitoring; December 10, 2006Defending himself, Mesic said he had only made such speeches (plural!) to serve Croatia's war in the 1990s. (BBC Monitoring, 15 December 2006)
In the video, Mesic celebrates fascists who posed successfully as anti-fascists when the Nazis lost, thus sitting "at the winning table."
So: a) the scandal shows that the Serbs were telling the truth when they said the secessionists roused the Ustashe to fight Yugoslavia (and Serbs) in the early 1990s; and b) what is left of the hype about a President Mesic who regrets Ustashe crimes?
Although four news services - Associated Press, Agence France Presse, ANSA and BBC Monitoring - covered this important scandal, only one of the thousands of newspapers and TV stations archived by Lexis-Nexis, the Dutch Dagblad van het Noorden, reported it.
On 15 December 2006, Croatian Assembly Speaker Vladimir Seks admitted that he and President Mesic had "possibly" sung songs celebrating Jure and Boban, heads of the Croatian Black Legion. The Legion was an SS unit comprised of Croatian Catholics and Bosnian Muslims that slaughtered vast numbers of Serbian civilians, wiping out villages, burning people alive or dumping them into mountain crevasses. (After the Ustashe's defeat, Yugoslavia sealed the crevasses with cement to safeguard brotherhood.) Here is an excerpt from the relevant Croatian dispatch. The bracketed comments are from BBC Monitoring:
Croatian Assembly Speaker Vladimir Seks said on HTV's [Croatian TV] Otvoreno ["Openly"] programme this evening - in response to a journalist's question on the truthfulness of the claim that he and state President Stjepan Mesic sang [Ustashe - WWII pro-Nazis] songs about "Jure and Boban" [Ustashe commanders] - that: "It is possible that this occurred, it is not out of the question." -- "Croatian Speaker admits he may have sung Ustashe songs with president," BBC Monitoring December 15, 2006I can find no newspaper or TV news program that reported this second scandal.
The suppression of these blockbuster stories supports my charge that the media has misinformed the public about Croatia, and is consistent with the charge that the media, Western governments and semi-government institutions have promoted a campaign launched by notoriously anti-Semitic Croatian leader Tudjman to deny the Holocaust - vastly cutting the numbers killed, suppressing discussion of the leading role of the Catholic church and denying the Ustashe's mass base.
Jewish organizations and the Serbian Orthodox Church have resisted this Holocaust denial. In response, there has been a drive to get them to endorse Tudjman's line, a drive led by the German governments Goethe-Institut and the US State Department, using Washington's Holocaust Museum.
Which brings us to the opening of Croatia's exhibition at the Jasenovac death camp on November 27, 2006.
The exhibition is of grave political significance because, even though it avoids all discussion of Croatia's Holocaust regime, including the Catholic clergy's leading role, and it puts forward the Holocaust-denying line that the Ustashe killed 70,000 people at Jasenovac - rather than 600-700,000 or more - nevertheless:
* The exhibition is, shockingly, co-sponsored by Yad Vashem, whose Encyclopedia of the Holocaust (published in 1990, when the campaign to rewrite the Croatian Holocaust was just starting) gives the lie to Croatian denial; and
* It was, shockingly, whitewashed by the presence of the Serbian Orthodox bishop of Slavonia, the Serbian Ambassador, and Efraim Zuroff of the Wiesenthal Center's Israel office.
Dr. Zuroff wrote an article about the exhibition that criticized it for not naming individual Ustashe or explaining the ideology that allowed "the crimes committed in this terrible place [to] happen." But these criticisms are weak and indeed misleading, since, for starters, the exhibition doesn't merely fail to explain why the crimes happened, it falsifies the nature of the crimes, misrepresenting the Jasenovac death camp as a labor camp.
Moreover, Zuroff writes respectfully about the supposedly modern Croatian exhibition with its "precise statistics on 69,842" murdered in Jasenovac, while derisively dismissing the Serbian assertion that 700,000 died. That figure is, Zuroff claims, the "unlikely" creation of Serbian and Communist propagandists.
And Zuroff again misleads when he describes Ustashe ideology as "fanatic [sic!] patriotism," thus trivializing the racist-religious hate that drove the Ustashe to turn Greater Croatia into a vast slaughterhouse for hundreds of thousands. (Imagine describing German Nazi ideology as 'fanatical patriotism.')
Contradicting Zuroff's attempt to minimize the extent of Ustashe mass murder, the Wiesenthal Center website itself asserts that 600,000 people, mostly Serbs, and virtually all the Jews and Roma in Bosnia and Croatia, were murdered at Jasenovac. Is the Wiesenthal website the tool of Serbs or Communists?
The Wiesenthal page has been archived by Emperor's Clothes as it still appears - a beacon of resistance to the attempt to market Holocaust denial as Holocaust education.