Croatia’s Parliament Sponsors Event Honoring Pro-Nazi Ustasha Soldiers

EU and NATO Member Croatia Fuels Anti-Semitism and Holocaust Revisionism in the Balkans | The West’s Rule of Law Nations Must Cordon the Balkan State and Freeze All Aid to Croatia

International Leaders Summit
8 min readMay 20, 2020
From left: Ante Pavelic, dictator of Independent State of Croatia — the pro-Nazi Croatian government in parliament. Top right: Pavelic with Adolf Hitler. Bottom right: Adolf Hitler greeting Pavelic.

In a published report, a high-ranking Nazi official was quoted describing the brutality in Jasenovac death camp in Sisak County, Croatia — the Auschwitz of the Balkans: “General Edmund von Horstenau, Hitler’s envoy in the capital city of Zagreb, called the place the epitome of horror.”

Published reports have stated — “The Croatian parliament reportedly donates 500,000 kunas ($71,500) for the event.”

May 20, 2020, Washington DC — A week after Americans and Europeans joined together through virtual events in commemorating the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe (V-E Day), remembering the significant sacrifices of an entire generation fighting for freedom against tyranny, the Croatian parliament co-organized an annual event honoring pro-Nazi Ustasha soldiers of the Independent State of Croatia (Nezavisna Država Hrvatska — NDH), a fascist regime which forged strong ties with Nazi Germany during the Second World War.

On Saturday, May 16, 2020 in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Croatian parliament sponsored an event, usually held in Bleiburg, southern Austria, to further fuel anti-Semitism and Holocaust revisionism in the Balkans. A separate event was held in Zagreb, the capital of Croatia.

Eight-in-Ten of Croatia’s Jews were Killed Under the Rule of the Croatian Ustasha Government

The armband worn by Croataia’s Jews consisted of the Star of David. Over 80 percent of Croatia’s Jews were killed during the Ustasha regime’s reign of terror.

During the Holocaust, 80% of Croatia’s Jews were murdered under the rule of the pro-Nazi Croatian Ustasha government. At the Jasenovac death camp alone, more than 80,000 individuals from the Jewish, Serbian and Roma communities were brutally killed. After Croatia’s independence from Yugoslavia, the state has used the annual event to officially commemorate the crimes of the WWII pro-Nazi Ustasha government. In Sarajevo alone, 7,000 out of 10,000 Jews were murdered under the rule of the Croatian Ustasha government.

According to BBC (May 16, 2020), “A similar memorial event was held in Croatia’s capital Zagreb.”

While these events scheduled for May 2020 were reported in advance, the majority of Western diplomats residing in the capital city of Zagreb remained silent, side-stepping their moral responsibility to call to account Croatia’s politicians, Prime Minister Andre Plenkovic and the Croatian Democratic Union HDZ-led government. The Western diplomatic group’s appeasement tactic has emboldened Croatia’s anti-Semitic figures. The diplomatic corps in Zagreb using Western taxpayer funds continue to wine and dine Croatia’s politicians mired in corruption.

EU and NATO member Croatia is dependent on American and European taxpayer funds through billions of dollars in direct aid, grants, and favorable loans via the European Bank of Reconstruction (America is a founding member), EU cohesion funds, World Bank (the US is the largest shareholder), USAID, and NATO military assistance through the US Department of Defense.

The controversial annual ceremony which is usually held in Bleiburg, southern Austria, was canceled due to the coronvirus pandemic. However, the pandemic did not stop the Croatian government, its politicians and co-organizers — the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Bosnia and Croatia to further fuel anti-Semitism and Holocaust revisionism in the Balkans.

The West’s rule of law nations must cordon the Balkan state and freeze all aid to Croatia.

How would Americans and Europeans respond if the modern-day Bundenstag — Germany’s parliament would sponsor an event commemorating Nazi soldiers and glorify Adolf Hitler and the country’s dark history? The West must not remain silent in the face of evil when facing Croatia’s anti-Semitic figures fueling Holocaust revisionism.

In 1939, the Jewish population in Croatia grew to 40,000. Nearly eighty percent of Croatia’s Jews were killed in the Holocaust. The US Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC, states that “more than 30,000 Croatian Jews were killed either in Croatia or at Auschwitz-Birkenau.”

The region has witnessed an unprecedented rise of anti-Semitism and Holocaust revisionism since the return of HDZ — Croatian Democratic Union politicans to key positions of government including Croatia’s presidency in 2014 and now the corrupt governance of the country through a HDZ-led government. On May 18, 2020, Croatia’s parliament was dissolved and new elections were announced for July 5, 2020.

Site of the Jasenovac death camp, Sisak County, Croatia | The Stone Flower sculpture was designed by Bogdan Bogdanović in 1966. | The train placed on the Jasenovac Memorial grounds was used to bring victims to the death camp. | Photographs: International Leaders Summit.

Over the past three decades, high-ranking clergymen in Croatia’s Catholic Church and Croatian politicians including then-President Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic have honored pro-Nazi Ustasha solders and Croatia’s Ustasha government supporters at Bleiburg. In spite of Austria’s diocese banning a Catholic mass near the town of Bleiburg in March, Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, Croatia’s president and HDZ politician visited a commemoration site in Bleiburg, Austria. Grabar-Kitarovic’s visit took place on May 9, 2019, during Croatia’s presidential election year.

The site in Bleiburg, Austria, is dedicated to the defeated pro-Nazi Independent State of Croatia’s soldiers and civilian supporters who were killed in the aftermath of World War II by Yugoslav Partisans. Bleiburg is where Croatia’s pro-Nazi Ustasha regime troops fled Yugoslav Partisans to surrender to British and allied forces.

Croatia’s politicians and Catholic clergy from Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina continue to support events commemorating Ustasha soldiers. The event includes sermons, prayers and speeches.

Deutsch Welle reported:

Leading the Saturday ceremony in Sarajevo, the Catholic cardinal said that "the victims cannot be forgotten" and that the prayer was aimed to "cleanse all bitter feelings and negative tensions that come up when the victims are remembered."

Grabar Kitarovic’s 2019 visit to Bleiburg, Austria, took place on the eve of the annual commemoration which has been described by Rudolf Edlinger, president of the Documentation Centre of Austrian Resistance, as “the biggest annual neo-fascist reunion in Europe.” Edlinger went on to comment that this event “glorifies the Croatian Nazi-collaborationist regime.”

Published reports have stated“The Croatian parliament reportedly donates 500,000 kunas ($71,500) for the event.”

Dr. Ognjen Kraus, president of The Coordination of Jewish Communities said, “The HDZ government has failed to address the rise of anti-Semitism and the display of fascist symbols. It is lenient towards those sympathetic to the WWII Croatian fascist Ustasha regime.” In an earlier report published in 2016, Dr. Kraus stated, “The state is simply not doing anything… and does not want to prevent a far-right revival.”

From Germany’s media group Deutsche Welle (May 16, 2020):

A large event to commemorate the victims is now held annually in Bleiburg, with many of the visitors displaying Ustasha and Nazi symbols. Last year, the Austrian diocese denied permission to hold a mass at the site, prompting criticism from their Croatian counterparts. It also prompted a reaction from Croatia's then-president, Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, who said that she "deeply regrets" the ban as a "Croatian and a woman of faith."

The Ustasha consisted of pro-Nazi Croatians that oversaw the Balkan war-time fascist state — Independent State of Croatia (NDH) (1941–45) which included parts of modern Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

After the end of WWII, a significant number of pro-Nazi Ustasha government officials fled to Argentina, Spain and other places which provided safe haven to Nazi supporters. The mass murderer Ante Pavelic, Croatian fascist dictator who headed the pro-Nazi Croatian Ustasha state first fled to Argentina and then returned to the European continent. Pavelic lived comfortably in Spain without ever facing justice for war crimes.

The Bleiburg annual ceremony is designed to rehabilitate the Ustasha regime and revise the historic facts.

History is clear — Croatia’s pro-Nazi WWII government was at the center of the Holocaust in the Balkans, murdering Jews, Serbs and Roma people.

The Bleiburg annual event is used by Croatia’s politicians, clergy and pro-Nazi Ustasha sympathizers and extremist networks in the Balkans with two distinct audiences in mind — 1) a domestic and Croatia’s diaspora around the world and 2) the international community.

The Bleiburg “rallying cry” awakens ultra-nationalist voters, whitewashes the Croatian Catholic Church’s complicity in evil, and incites greater hatred targeting minority groups including Jews.

Moreover, Croatia’s politicians fuel Holocaust revisionism and ultra-nationalism as a constant electoral leverage distracting a susceptible voting bloc from the Balkan country’s rampant corruption and a moribund economy dependent on US and European taxpayer aid and loans.

Over the years, Croatia’s politicians have used anti-Semitic laws to block the return of Jewish property and currency stolen during the rule of the Croatian Ustasha government from 1941–1945. Some $3 billion dollars worth of stolen private property and currency ought to be returned to Croatian Jewish families, their descendants and the Jewish community.

A principled approach from the West should include legislative action to freeze all taxpayer funded aid sent to Croatia via EBRD, The World Bank and NATO related military assistance and to censure Croatia’s politicians. The US State Department ought to block the visit of Croatian politicians, anti-Semitic figures, and individuals tied to Croatia’s criminal and corrupt networks to enter the United States of America.

Croatia’s government officials have been lobbying through Washingtom, D.C.-based groups including think tanks to expedite its entrance into the U.S. Visa Waiver Program. America’s elected officials should block Croatia’s entry into this special designated visa program. The US Homeland Security’s U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services ought to take a leadership role in carefully vetting visa applicants from Croatia.

The world is watching. Principled leaders and engaged citizens within strong rule of law nations have a responsibility to act. We owe it to the six million Jews and the 80% of Croatian Jews who were murdered during the Holocaust.

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