Jasenovac – Top Croatian officials – President of the Republic Ivo Josipović, Prime Minister Zoran Milanović and Croatian Parliament Speaker Boris Šprem – gathered at the Jasenovac Memorial Site to commemorate the 67th anniversary of the inmates’ breakthrough from the concentration camp and to send the message that the crimes committed in Jasenovac must not be forgotten or denied and that fascist ideas will never again take hold in Croatia.
President Josipović underlined that all those denying crimes and advocating hatred and suffering in the name of a nation should be identified. Today’s schoolbooks do not contain the whole truth about the Second World War, he added. Fascist, Nazi and Ustasha ideas will not take hold in Croatia ever again, Josipović said. Oblivion and denial are the greatest threats to democracy, freedom and humanity and therefore we must not allow the crimes that happened in Jasenovac to be forgotten, Josipović stated.
Prime Minister Zoran Milanović stressed that the main purpose of such gatherings was not to deliver political speeches but to teach children what had really happened so that they could learn the truth. Once children grow up to be young adults, it is late for learning and everyone will have chosen their flag by then. “The only flag we should all stand beneath is the flag of the democratic and just Croatia, an open society, community of those wishing to live in it”, Milanović said.
Croatian Parliament Speaker Boris Šprem said that nobody could deny the victims of the Jasenovac death camp and that the crimes that had happened there should be widely condemned. The Ustasha movement did not imply serving the best interest of Croatia or the Croats; it was an ideology that worked only in its own interest. Facing one’s history is necessary however unpleasant that history may be. In the Second World War Croatia fought on the side of the victorious antifascist coalition. Antifascist values are built in the foundations of the independent and sovereign Croatia in the historical foundations of its Constitution. These are also the values that made Europe rise from the ashes and ruins of the World War Two and Croatia indisputably belongs to Europe and European civilization, concluded the Speaker.
After the state leadership’s address, representatives of religious communities in Croatia – Rector of the Serbian Orthodox Parish of Pakrac Đorđe Teodorović, Rabbi of the Jewish community in Zagreb Luciano Moše Prelević, Chief Rabbi Kotel Da-Don of the Bet Israel Jewish Community of Croatia, Chief Imām of Sisak Alem effendi Crnkić and Mario Cimbal, Priest of the Jasenovac Parish – sent their prayers. Presidents of the Republic and of the Government and the Speaker of the Parliament then laid wreaths under the Flower Monument and paid their respects to the victims of Jasenovac.
Wreaths were also laid by numerous delegations of antifascist organizations from Croatia and its neighbouring countries, as well as by representatives of the County of Sisak and Moslavina, the City of Zagreb, the Serbian National Council, Roma associations, diplomatic corps and many others. (Hina/Internet Editorial Staff)