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Shofar FTP Archive File: places/croatia/jasenovac/press/washington-times.0794

Archive/File: holocaust/yugoslavia/jasenovac wp.070594
Last-Modified: 1994/07/29

Newsgroups: soc.culture.croatia,soc.culture.jewish
From: (DDC)
Organization: Bellcore
Date: Sat, 23 Jul 1994 15:51:13 GMT
Lines: 93

[Reprinted without permission, for 'fair use' only.]

                       (By Andrew Borowiec)
             ("The Washington Times", July 5, 1994)

     The ghosts of thousands of inmates slaughtered in a World War II
Croatian  concentration camp haunt former Yugoslavia and  mar  future
relations among its ethnic groups.
      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 a first  ignored,  and  then
mysteriously   removed  from  international  archives,   the   horror
surpassing that of same 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  historians,  Tito's
reasoning was simple: perpetrating 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.
      The  silence of Jewish organizations is less easily  explained,
particularly  since Nazi-hunter Simon Wiesenthal  was  aware  of  the
slaughter.  Now,  with  Serbs widely accused  of  "genocide"  against
Bosnia's Muslims, Serbia is reviving its quest for the truth in  what
Croatia's president Franjo Tudjman calls "The Myth Of Jasenovac".
      "There  was no myth", insists Milan Bulajic,  a former diplomat
and  legal adviser to the Yugoslav government who heads the  Genocide
Museum  in Belgrade. "There was outright slaughter of between 600,000
and  700,000  people,  with cruelty and bestiality  unprecedented  in
      Mr.  Bulajic, who calls himself "a lone ranger" in  efforts  to
bring  justice  to the victims of Jasenovac, visited  Washingon  last
week  to meet officials of the Holocaust Museum and find out  why  no
one mentions the Yugoslav Jews who died there. He did not seem to get
a clearcut answer.
      Mr.Bulajic  said that he and various Jewish organizations  have
the  list  of  20,000 Jewish victims, exterminated  alongside  Serbs,
Gypsies  and  some Croats by the Ustasha militia of the  Nazi  puppet
state of Croatia.
      Croatian  authorities,  while admitting  that  a  "labor  camp"
existed,  challenge the number of people killed, calling  the  figure
Serbian propaganda. Mr. Tudjman, who was a "political" general  under
Marshal  Tito,  has  admitted a "maximum of  20,000  deaths  in  that
Jasenovac" and offered a formal apology to Jews.
      He  did not apologize to Serbs or Gypsies, who constituted  the
bulk  of  the men, women and children put to death at Jasenovac  with
bestiality that shocked even veteran SS and Gestapo officers.
      On  March  16, 1944, Nazi SS Maj. Gen. Ernest Fik  reported  to
Berlin  that  the  Ustasha  had killed between  600,000  and  700,000
concentration  camp  inmates  "the  Balkan  way",  implying   extreme
      According  to a statement of Gabriel Vintner, one  of  the  few
survivors, "they kill and torture in every way imaginable.  Not  only
with  a  gun and a knife, or hot iron or by starving them out.  There
were cases when they (Ustasha) would dig a pit, drive men, women  and
children into it and blow it up with bombs".
     Mr. Tudjman, whose presence at the inauguration of the Holocaust
Museum  in Washington last year caused some dismay, has made a number
of  statements about Jews and the Holocaust. In his work  "Wastelands
Of  Historical  Reality", he said that the figure of 6  million  Jews
killed  by  the  Nazis "is founded too much on emotional  and  biased
testimonies  and  exaggerated data". Later,  he  wrote:  "The  Jewish
people  became so brutal and conducted a genocidal policy toward  the
Palestinians  that  they can rightly be defined as Judeo-Nazi."  Even
before,  regarding Jasenovac, Mr. Tudjman wrote, "Jews had a monopoly
of  the  supreme  administration of the camp" and conducted  "massive
slaughter of non-Jews."
      Six  months  after  the  liberation of  Belgrade,  Yugoslavia's
capital,  by Soviet troops in September 1944, Jasenovac continued  to
function  as  a  death  camp. On April 22, 1945, withdrawing  Ustasha
troops  blew up the barracks, torture chambers and other remnants  of
their monstrous death factory and killed the remaining 1,100 inmates,
throwing their corpses into the Sava.
      After  the  war,  tito allowed the creation  of  the  Jasenovac
memorial  grounds but never went there himself. When Yugoslavia  fell
apart  in  1991,  11  years  after  Tito's  death,  troops  of  newly
independent  Croatia  briefly captured the site  and,  according  to
Serbian  sources, blew up whatever was left of the camp and destroyed
all  remaining  records. Thus "The Myth" continues  amid  conflicting

       -- I speak for no one and no one speaks for me --

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