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Croatia’s Jews, Serbs, anti-fascists, Roma gather at WWII site

April 13, 2019

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Jasenovac (Croatia): Hundreds gather at a memorial centre to pay their respects to tens of thousands of people killed in death camps run by Croatia’s pro-Nazi government during World War II.—AP
Jasenovac (Croatia): Hundreds gather at a memorial centre to pay their respects to tens of thousands of people killed in death camps run by Croatia’s pro-Nazi government during World War II.—AP

ZAGREB: Jewish, Serb, anti-fascist and Roma groups came together on Friday to commemorate the victims of a World War II death camp in Croatia, boycotting upcoming official ceremonies for the fourth year in a row over what they say is government inaction over neo-Nazi sentiments in the country.

Hundreds gathered in silence at the memorial centre at Jasenovac to pay their respects to the tens of thousands of people killed in death camps run by Croatia’s pro-Nazi puppet state. Commemorations mark the attempted escape in April 1945 of 1,073 prisoners from the Jasenovac camp when hundreds were killed.

Though the Croatian government will hold a separate commemoration ceremony on Sunday, minority and anti-fascist groups have snubbed an invitation to attend and criticised the authorities’ failure to prosecute those downplaying the crimes of the Ustasha regime in WWII.

“Nothing has changed in the past year, the situation is even worse,” the head of Croatia’s Jewish Community, Ognjen Kraus, said in Jasenovac. “The extreme right is getting stronger and more aggressive.” Kraus said a recent march of a right-wing group in the coastal Croatian town of Split and the continued use by some of the notorious salute used by the pro-Nazi Ustasha troops during WWII were examples of the government;s failure to punish the promoters of right-wing ideology.

“It is time to move from words to deeds,” said Kraus. “It should be clearly stated that crimes and the Holocaust took place here in Croatia and that those who deny it must bear the consequences.”

Published in Dawn, April 13th, 2019