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Balkan 'Auschwitz' haunts Croatia ^ | Monday, 25 April, 2005, 17:03 GMT 18:03 UK | BBC

Posted on 05/05/2005 10:25:27 AM PDT by Destro

Last Updated: Monday, 25 April, 2005, 17:03 GMT 18:03 UK

Balkan 'Auschwitz' haunts Croatia

Survivors of a World War II death camp have been mourning the victims of Croatia's Nazi puppet regime. As the BBC's Nick Hawton and Marko Kovac report, war crimes committed long before the atrocities of the 1990s still haunt Croatia as it seeks EU membership.

The atrocities at Jasenovac shocked even the Nazis

In the vast open field, on the banks of the Sava River, the survivors came to pay their respects.

Sixty years ago, this was the scene of some of the worst atrocities of World War II.

The Jasenovac death camp came to be known as "the Auschwitz of the Balkans".

Even the Nazis were shocked by what happened here. Today's survivors glance at the point on the river where so many of their friends and colleagues were brutally murdered.

To their left is the huge concrete monument, shaped into the petals of an opening flower, in honour of the dead.

Some people have tears in their eyes. Many carry flowers. Everyone has their own memories.

"I was arrested because my parents were partisans fighting the fascist regime," says 69-year old Serb Slavko Milanovic.

"My mother had to hide me in bed sheets every morning because Ustasha were separating children and taking them away."

Many of the children were murdered.

Hitler ally

Jasenovac was run by the Croatian Fascist Ustasha allied to Adolf Hitler.

Their victims were Serbs, Jews, Gypsies and Croats opposed the regime.

"There was a brick factory in the camp. It had a big oven that would be heated up and people were thrown in alive." says Slavko.

"They would dig graves, put prisoners in and then hit them with hammers until they died. Concrete was then poured over."

At the commemoration, survivors and their families listen to anniversary speeches by politicians and organisers.

But their minds take them far away from this place - to World War II and those who died as victims of the cruel regime.

No one really knows how many died here. Serbs talk of 700,000. Most estimates put the figure nearer 100,000.

In the post-war communist years, investigations into such crimes were forbidden. The regime did not want to rock the delicate stability of the new Yugoslavia.

"It is very important that we teach our children values that can prevent this catastrophe happening again," says Croatian Prime Minister Ivo Sanader to the hundreds gathered.

"The victory of anti-fascism over fascism is a victory for values which are threaded into modern Europe and modern Croatia."

And it is modern Croatia that is very much on Mr Sanader's mind.

EU accession

This week, Croatia will try to reignite its attempts to join the European Union, at meetings with EU officials in Luxembourg.

In March, accession talks were put on hold because the EU believed modern Croatia was not doing all it could to hand over a general wanted for war crimes during the 1990s.

General Ante Gotovina has been on the run for years. The EU believes Croatia could do more to find him.

But while some people are having trouble resolving modern war crimes, for others it is the old war crimes that prey on their minds.

Croat Simo Klaic, 80, spent three years at Jasenovac in 1942-45.

Today, like every anniversary, he is here to remember his friends who died in the camp.

"This should never, ever happen again - anywhere," he says.

"And let's remember, during the 1940s, there were people who just did not know what the Ustasha were doing here.

"But then there were also those who did know what was being done here - and did nothing," he says.

TOPICS: Extended News; Foreign Affairs
KEYWORDS: 1941; balkans; bosnian; coats; croatia; deathcamps; holocaust; jewish; nazis; serbs; ss; ustasha; yugoslavia
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No wonder the Serbs did not want to live under Croat-Muslim rule.
1 posted on 05/05/2005 10:25:28 AM PDT by Destro
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To: Destro

No kidding...

2 posted on 05/05/2005 10:39:17 AM PDT by MD_Willington_1976
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To: Destro; mac_truck; fortheDeclaration; IAF ThunderPilot; sheik yerbouty; TexConfederate1861; ...
Jasenovac - Horror in Croatia

Jasenovac the third largest concentration camp of WWII in Nazi occupied Europe.

The Yugoslav ethnic wars of the 1990's were an extension of World War Two. In many cases the same uniforms and insignias were worm by the various Yugoslavian combatants.

Croatian fascist leader Ante Pavelic makes his first state visit to Nazi Germany, June 16th, 1941. From left to right: Pavelic, Hitler, Hermann Goering.

Hitler greeting the Ante Pavelic, the self-styled poglavnik (führer) of pro-Nazi wartime Croatia (1941-photo)

Recruitment Poster for Croatian and Bosnian Muslim SS Divisions In February 1943, SS leader Heinrich Himmler established two Croatian-Bosnian Muslim SS divisions: the 13th "Handschar" and the 23rd "Kama" Waffen SS divisions. Unsuccessful in their main task - to defeat Tito's Partisans - "it confined itself chiefly to massacring and pillaging the defenseless [Serb] Christians." - from John Keegan's Waffen SS - The Asphalt Soldiers, 1970. The recruitment poster above reads: Croatians of Herzeg-Bosnia! Your Great Leaders Adolf Hitler and the Fuhrer Dr. Ante Pavelic CALL UPON YOU TO DEFEND YOUR HOMES ENLIST IN THE VOLUNTEER CROATIAN SS DIVISIONS

An Ustasa guard stands next to a watch tower in the Jasenovac concentration camp.

A unit of Ustasi militia point their rifles at a group of bodies lying at their feet.

Jasenovac Camp commander Maks Luburic and Nazi Lieutenant Schmidt interview Jasenovac prisoners for forced labor in Nazi munitions factories in Germany at Jasenovac on June 12th, 1942. Thousands of Serbs and Yugoslav Jews who were forced to work in Nazi wartime industry have never received a penny in compensation from the official Claims Commission. (Photo courtesy of Marko Rucnov)

Muslim Grand Mufti Amin Al Husseini in Croatia with Croatian Nazi leaders in the early forties. With their help, he founded the Bosnian Nazi Division called the Hanzar, made up exclusively of Bosnian/Yugoslav Muslims, and perpetrated the genocide of Serbs, Jews and Gypsies. These historic moments are at the root of today's conflict in Bosnia-Hercegovina, Kosovo and the rest of the former Yugoslavia.

In late 1943, members of the Croatian Division were issued with SS uniforms. Instead of the SS collar tab a special collar tab consisting of a hand holding a Scimitar with a swastika. The sword has historically been the symbol of Bosnia, an example of the collar tab is shown above.

Official Ustashe ceremony with Jasenovac Camp Commander Maks Luburic (second from left), Croation Ustashe Fuhrer Ante Pavelic, German Nazi representative Gen. Glaise von Horstenan, and Ustashe leader Kvartnik. Ante Pavelic escaped being tried for war crimes and died in Spain in 1959.

As a clerical-fascist state, the Catholic clergy were integrated into the highest levels of government. Above, Zagreb Archbishop Alojzije Stepinac (far right) officiates at a pro-Nazi Croatian state ceremony in 1941.

One of the central Jasenovac camps, "Ciglane" (the brick factory), as it appeared after the departure of the Ustashe in April 1945. (Photo courtesy of Marko Rucnov)


The Ustaša established Croatia’s first concentration camps in the spring of 1941. Among them were Koprivnica, Pag Island, Jadovno, Krušcica (located in Bosnia-Herzegovina), Ðakovo, Tenje, and Loborgrad.

By October 1942, the Ustaša authorities had closed all of these camps. Between August 1941 and February 1942, the Ustaša established the Jasenovac complex of camps—Krapje, Brocica, Ciglana, Kozara, and Stara Gradiška. Krapje and Brocica were closed in November 1941. Ciglana, Kozara, and Stara Gradiška were dismantled in April 1945 as the Ustaša fled the approaching Yugoslav partisans.

Younger victims of the Ustashe

Germans and Ustaša killed approximately 32,000 Jews from Croatia between 1941 and 1945. The precise number of Jews murdered in the Jasenovac complex is not known, but estimates range from 8,000 to 20,000 victims. These numbers do not include Jews whom the Ustaša authorities turned over to the Germans for deportation to Auschwitz and other camps.

Many of the camp inmates died of starvation, exposure, and disease, or were murdered by the Ustaša guards. In addition, Ustaša authorities handed over approximately 7,000 Jews from Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina to the Nazis for deportation to Auschwitz, Bergen-Belsen, and other camps.

Ustashi search and plunder property of newly arrived prisoners at yje Jasenovac concentration camp.

Property plundered from internees by Ustashi at Jasenovac concentration camp (to be shared by guards).

Statistics for Romani victims are difficult to assess, as there are no firm estimates of their number in prewar Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. The best estimates calculate the number of Romani victims at about 26,000, of whom between 8,000 and 15,000 perished in Jasenovac.

Slavko Kvaternik, Commander in Chief of the military of the pro-Axis 'Independent State of Croatia', saluting during an outdoor ceremony. Circa 1941 - 1945

Ustasi militia execute prisoners near the Jasenovac concentration camp. Circa 1941-1945

German General Major Friedrich Stahl stands alongside an UstasI officer and Serb Chetnik Commander Rade Radic in central Bosnia Circa 1941-1945

Ustasi militia stand guard as a long column of women carrying bundles proceeds along the main street of a town during a deportation action.

There are only loose estimates for the number of Croats murdered by the Ustaša. This group included political and religious opponents of the regime, both Catholic and Muslim. Between 5,000 and 12,000 Croats are believed to have died in Jasenovac.

1998-Croatia seeks extradition of Nazi in Argentina (BBC)

Jasenovac Survivor Lilijana Ivanisovic recounts how Ustashi guards "separated babies from their mothers' breasts and threw them into pits." : source

German soldiers, aided by Ustasi collaborators, lead a column of Serbs to the Sabac internment camp during anti-partisan "cleansing" operations in the Macva region.

Not all Croats were pro-Nazi. Portrait of Croatian rescuer Ivan Vranetic, who has been recognized by Yad Vashem as one of the Righteous Among the Nations.

3 posted on 05/05/2005 12:26:48 PM PDT by M. Espinola (Freedom is never free)
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To: Destro

Thanks for the informative post.

4 posted on 05/05/2005 12:51:31 PM PDT by Lion in Winter (Getting old is NOT for sissies.... trust me, I know!)
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To: M. Espinola

great post!

5 posted on 05/05/2005 12:58:51 PM PDT by nikola (I've donated. Have you?
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To: M. Espinola
Thanks for posting the pictures. Some were especially shocking:

Those children, the women being herded like cattle through woodlands.... and the executions done by the very young looking militia... shocking!!

Look at those vicious fellows, muslims apparently holding their knives and guns over their victims( Serbs? Jews? Gypsies?)!! HOW AWFUL.

Now, what is the rst of the story on all those clergy in that one picture with the Nazis?? An Archbishop?? How dreadful.

6 posted on 05/05/2005 1:02:33 PM PDT by Lion in Winter (Getting old is NOT for sissies.... trust me, I know!)
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To: MD_Willington_1976
I second your thoughts!


7 posted on 05/05/2005 1:03:43 PM PDT by Lion in Winter (Getting old is NOT for sissies.... trust me, I know!)
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To: jb6; ApplegateRanch; Romanov; Agrarian

Hey, guys take a looks at this WWII stuff. Rough stuff...

8 posted on 05/05/2005 1:07:53 PM PDT by Lion in Winter (Getting old is NOT for sissies.... trust me, I know!)
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To: U S Army EOD; sergey1973; Alouette; SJackson; dennisw; kosta50

PING to you all.

9 posted on 05/05/2005 1:14:54 PM PDT by Lion in Winter (Getting old is NOT for sissies.... trust me, I know!)
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To: M. Espinola

Great post. The Croatian and Hungarian Catholics were exceedingly evil in WW2 as they out Nazied the Nazis. The Germans were revulsed by their barbarism against Serbs and Jews.

10 posted on 05/05/2005 1:57:30 PM PDT by dennisw (2¢ plain)
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To: Lion in Winter

Thanks Lion in Winter. Another terrible and not well publicized chapter of WWII. Hitler knew how to manipulate ethinic and historical hatreds and he used ethnic strifes to secure the position of the Third Reich in Yugoslavia and Soviet Union.

11 posted on 05/05/2005 2:14:31 PM PDT by sergey1973 (Russian American Political Blogger, Arm Chair Strategist)
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To: dennisw
Off topic but I just noticed your tag line.... 2 cent plain...

I have not heard that in years. My cousin from the Bronx, near the Botanical Gardens always said it was NOT his favorite!! LOL! That guy had such a sweet tooth... that's why it wasn't... I tell ya!

2 cent plain.... LOL!!

12 posted on 05/05/2005 2:20:19 PM PDT by Lion in Winter (Getting old is NOT for sissies.... trust me, I know!)
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To: Lion in Winter

2¢ plain is plain old seltzer without any syrup. That's what I think it is. The man who wrote the book by that name was Harry Golden, a real rascal and the publisher of the Carolina Israelite.

13 posted on 05/05/2005 3:15:29 PM PDT by dennisw (2¢ plain)
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To: dennisw
That is EXACTLY what it is. Plain seltzer water. We drink it at our house all the time. We get it in liter bottles from Publix super market. They favor some of the varities with lemon/lime or rasberry. But there is no sugar, just a hint of flavor. We have buy drinking water anyway... we live in FLORIDA, after all. So why not get a little fizz with it!!

Sorry never heard of the author or his publication, though.

14 posted on 05/05/2005 4:23:59 PM PDT by Lion in Winter (Getting old is NOT for sissies.... trust me, I know!)
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To: Lion in Winter

I often felt like we were on the wrong side when Clinton sent in the troops.

15 posted on 05/05/2005 7:04:05 PM PDT by U S Army EOD (My US Army daughter out shot everybody in her basic training company.)
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To: mark502inf
This is the part where you are supposed to come in and tell us that it was really the Serbs who did this to themselves. Be consistent, at least.
16 posted on 05/05/2005 9:14:02 PM PDT by FormerLib (Kosova: "land stolen from Serbs and given to terrorist killers in a futile attempt to appease them.")
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To: Lion in Winter

Thanks for the ping. Glad I had time to digest dinner before looking at some of those photos, and following links.

17 posted on 05/05/2005 9:49:27 PM PDT by ApplegateRanch (The world needs more work horses, and fewer Jackasses!)
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To: nikola; Lion in Winter; All
Thank you for your comments. I felt this rather relatively unknown theater of World War Two & Shoah history should be brought to the attention of the FR readership.

Remember although some of the photos were rather shocking, there are others which are far worse.

"Those children, the women being herded like cattle through woodlands.... and the executions done by the very young looking militia... shocking!!"

I believe all of us can clearly recall identical film footage and news photos of the ethnic factions seeking revenge on each other during the Balkan wars of the 1990's.

The different sides in the former Yugoslavia once again set up 'transit refugee centers' where thousands of 'Yugoslavs' were slaughtered by enemy 'Yugoslav' ethnic militias.

Image: The fracturing of Yugoslavia along ethnic lines began several years after Tito's death and has been characterized by particularly vicious hatred, violence, and a program of ethnic cleansing. Whereas Bosnia was the site of much of this conflict in the early 1990s, at the end of the millenium, Kosovo became another new killing fields. In this photo, a young Bosnian Muslim man is doused with water by two Serb police after being thrown out a window.(credit: by arrangement with WideWorld Photos/AP)

History demonstrates it repeats itself unless caught in time.

18 posted on 05/06/2005 12:38:41 AM PDT by M. Espinola (Freedom is never free)
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To: Lion in Winter

I live in FL too. Those Publixx lightly flavored seltzers are good. Those carbonated (CO2) bubbles are good for digestion etc

19 posted on 05/06/2005 12:47:03 AM PDT by dennisw (2¢ plain)
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To: Lion in Winter; dennisw

Harry Golden is a favorite of my dad, who used to own several of Golden's books. One of them was entitled "For 2c Plain." I read a few of Golden's books when I was in college 25 years ago, and enjoyed him; he was a good humorist and observer of life.

20 posted on 05/06/2005 4:31:12 AM PDT by Convert from ECUSA (tired of all the shucking and jiving)
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