Zagreb - Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković said on Friday, on the occasion of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, that one must never turn a blind eye to outbursts of hate against members of a different ethnic group or religion.
Addressing a parliamentary session at which he paid tribute to the Holocaust victims, and which was also attended by Israeli Ambassador Gary Koren, Jandroković recalled that 78 years ago, on 27 January, the Auschwitz death camp, the biggest of the many places of horrible suffering of the Jewish people in WWII, was liberated.
He noted that it was difficult to cope with the fact that at the time, there was a sufficient number of people willing to participate in the systematic humiliation, dehumanisation and brutal executions of Jews, Roma and members of other ethnic groups, marked as inferior.
Often a similar fate would befall people who were political dissidents at the time, Jandroković said.
He warned that then Croatia was not spared "the painful historical experience of a criminal totalitarian regime either, which we most strongly condemn."
"That is why we pay special tribute to all members of the Jewish, Serb, Roma and other peoples killed in the so-called Independent State of Croatia," he said.
Jandroković stressed that even in those dark times there were strong beacons of humanity and courageous individuals who dared demonstrate selfless care for their fellow citizens and who despite their lives being in mortal danger, refused to indifferently and passively witness the plight of their Jewish fellow citizens.
"The world knows them today as the Righteous Among the Nations, true human and moral greats," he said.
He recalled that earlier this week, Kamilo Firinger (1893-1984), an intellectual, attorney, archivist and historian from Osijek, was awarded Yad Vashem's Righteous Among the Nations title in Osijek, thus becoming one of the 130 people in Croatia honoured with that title.
Firinger was honoured for rescuing three Osijek Jews during WWII, members of the Fischer family, Margaret and her two underage children.
Jandroković warned that eight decades after the systematic elimination of millions of Jews and other unsuitable peoples and other individuals and three decades after the horrible crimes in Vukovar, Škabrnja and Srebrenica, new symbols of deep human and civilisational falls were arising such as Mariupol, Irpin and Bucha.
He recalled that on 1 March Croatia would take over the year-long chairmanship of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), thus becoming a leader of global efforts to fight anti-Semitism and Holocaust distortion and denial.
That is why we will also strongly advocate the prevention of all forms of intolerance and hate speech, he said
"We must defend together the horrible truth about the Holocaust from those who negate it. We must strengthen the moral obligation of our peoples and the political commitment of our governments to provide future generations with the opportunity to understand what caused the Holocaust and to think about its consequences," Jandroković said, calling on MPs to observe a minute's silence for the Holocaust victims.