Croatia Criticized for Blocking Holocaust Property Restitution — Gives Taxpayer Aid to Pro-Nazi Soldiers Instead

The West’s Strong Rule of Law Nations Must Hold Croatia’s Government to Account | Block US Visa Waiver Program for Croatia and Freeze All Taxpayer Aid to the Balkan Nation

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October 13, 2020, Washington, D.C. — Croatia, a NATO member in the Balkans was taken to task for blocking the return of Jewish property through a public statement issued by two American Senators and a recent U.S. State Department report. In contrast, Serbia was publicly praised for Holocaust property restitution by the U.S. government through its official statements and the U.S. Embassy in Belgrade’s website.

The U.S. State Department’s Justice for Uncompensated Survivors Today (JUST) Act Report on Croatia released on July 29, 2020, stated the following:

According to published reports, “…the Jewish Community of Zagreb estimated that Croatia’s government had returned no more than 2 percent of the value of Jewish communal and private property seized during the Holocaust.”

US Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) released the following statement on July 29, 2020:

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Capitol Hill, Washington, DC: Natasha Srdoc, co-founder, International Leaders Summit and Jerusalem Leaders Summit with U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-Florida).

US Senators Rubio and Baldwin further communicated concerns about NATO allies, which failed to address the restitution of Jewish communal, private and heirless property. The joint statement further stated:

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Pictured in the center, Ante Pavelić (prounced Pavelich) was the fascist Ustashe leader of the Independent State of Croatia (NDH) during World War II. (Credit: Jasenovac: Auschwitz of the Balkans)

For too long, NATO member states such as Croatia have thwarted America’s principled efforts to insist on Holocaust property restitution. U.S. leaders and enagaged advocacy groups have clearly relayed to Croatia’s government to uphold the rule of law and property rights and to strike down the Balkan nation’s anti-Semitic laws. This key element was part of the NATO accession process which insisted on the return of private property to Jewish families and the community at large.

The U.S. State Department’s “Property Restitution in Central and Eastern Europe” piece states the following:

“The United States has strongly supported efforts to restitute to rightful owners property confiscated by the Nazis 1933–45 and by the subsequent communist governments of Central and Eastern Europe. Positive action on property issues was one of the criteria used to judge the progress of countries that aspired to North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) membership. The European Union (EU) also recognizes the relevance of property issues in applicant countries. A successful property restitution program is an indicator of the effectiveness of the rule of law in a democratic country. Non-discriminatory, effective property laws are also of crucial importance to a healthy market economy.”

Croatia which has reneged on the pledge to restitute Holocaust property to Jewish families, has continued to pay compensation and retirement assistance to the pro-Nazi Ustasha government soldiers and policemen.

In a report from the Balkan region, “According to the Croatian pension insurance institute, in 2013 Zagreb paid out pensions to 13,000 former soldiers and policemen of the Ustasa-led Nazi-aligned puppet state Independent State of Croatia, NDH.”

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An aerial view of the Jasenovac death camp taken in 1945. (Credit: Jasenovac: Auschwitz of the Balkans)

In an earlier piece, International Leaders Summit shared these findings:

It is time for U.S. legislators to act upon their beliefs and principles and to hold to account Croatia’s belligerent and obstinate government.

Croatia’s government has received $500 million in World Bank without any accountability. The Balkan nation is known for its $35 billion in illicit financial outflows via crime, corruption and tax evasion during 2005–2014, amounting to 73% of the 2015 GDP. Western nation’s donor taxpayers ought to demand a detailed accounting of how World Bank funds are being used in Croatia.

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Natasha Srdoc and Joel Anand Samy, co-founders, International Leaders Summit and Jerusalem Leaders Summit visit the Jasenovac Death Camp in Croatia — the Auschwitz of the Balkans. Over 80 percent of Croatia’s Jews were killed during World War II under the terror reign of the Ustasha (Ustaša), the pro-Nazi Independent State of Croatia (NDH).

Principled Action Steps to Hold Croatia’s Government to Account:

  1. U.S. legislators and the administration should block the U.S. Visa Waiver program which Croatia’s government is eager to obtain.
  2. Block all American taxpayer aid to Croatia via the World Bank, European bank of Reconstruction and Development, the U.S. State Department’s USAID and Department of Defense.
  3. Implement the bilateral U.S.-Croatia extradition and mutual legal assistance instruments — the mutual legal assistance treaty (MLAT ).

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