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|Genocide of Serbs in the Independent State of Croatia|
|Part of World War II in Yugoslavia|
|Genocide, ethnic cleansing, deportation, forced conversion|
|Motive||Anti-Serb sentiment, Greater Croatia, anti-Yugoslavism, Croatisation|
The Genocide of the Serbs (Serbo-Croatian : Genocid nad Srbima, Геноцид над Србима) was the systematic persecution of Serbs which was committed during World War II by the fascist Ustaše regime in the Nazi German client Independent State of Croatia (NDH) between 1941 and 1945. It was carried out through executions in death camps, as well as through mass murder, ethnic cleansing, deportations, forced conversions, and war rape. This genocide was simultaneously carried out with the Holocaust in the NDH, by combining Nazi racial policies with the ultimate goal of creating an ethnically pure Greater Croatia.
Following the defeat of the Central Powers in World War I and the collapse of Austria-Hungary, the provisional state which was formed on the southern territories of the Empire which joined the Allies-associate Kingdom of Serbia to form the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. The state was ruled by the Serbian Karađorđević dynasty. The 6 January Dictatorship and the later anti-Croat policies of the Serb-dominated Yugoslav government in the 1920s and 1930s fueled the rise of nationalist and far-right movements. This culminated in the rise of the Ustaše, the most extreme of these movements, and the implementation of its disproportionate and genocidal anti-Serbian policies during the Second World War. The Ustaše was an ultranationalist, fascist and terrorist organization that was founded by Ante Pavelić. At its core, the Ustaše held a deep ethnic hatred of Serbs and Serbian centralized power. Prior to the Second World War, the party organized an uprising in 1932 and assisted in the assassination of King Alexander I.
Following the Nazi German-led Axis invasion of Yugoslavia in April 1941, a German puppet state known as the Independent State of Croatia (NDH) was established, comprising most of modern-day Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as parts of modern-day Serbia and Slovenia, ruled by the Ustaše. The Ustaše's goal was to create an ethnically homogeneous Greater Croatia by eliminating all non-Croats, with the Serbs being the primary target but Jews, Roma and political dissidents were also targeted for elimination. In addition to Nazi racial theory and fascism, the Ustaše ideology incorporated Roman Catholicism and Croatian nationalism. Large scale massacres were committed and concentration camps were built, the largest one was the Jasenovac camp, which was notorious for its high mortality rate and the barbaric practices which occurred in it. Furthermore, the NDH was the only Axis puppet state to establish concentration camps specifically for children. The regime systematically murdered approximately 200,000 to 500,000 Serbs, with most authors agreeing on a range of around 300,000 to 350,000 fatalities. At least 52,000 perished at Jasenovac. 300,000 Serbs were further expelled and at least 200,000 more Serbs were forcibly converted, most of whom de-converted following the war.
Mile Budak and other NDH high officials were tried and convicted of war crimes by the communist authorities. Concentration camp commandants such as Ljubo Miloš and Miroslav Filipović were captured and executed, while Aloysius Stepinac was found guilty of forced conversion. Many others escaped, including the supreme leader Ante Pavelić, most to Latin America. The genocide was not properly examined in the aftermath of the war, because the post-war Yugoslav government did not encourage independent scholars out of concern that ethnic tensions would destabilize the new communist regime. Nowadays, оn 22 April, the anniversary of the prisoner breakout from the Jasenovac camp, Serbia marks the National Holocaust, World War II Genocide and other Fascist Crimes Victims Remembrance Day, while Croatia holds an official commemoration at the Jasenovac Memorial Site.
Ethnic tensions between Croats and Serbs can be traced back to the Great Schism of 1054. During the era of the Austrian Empire, land privileges were granted to Serbs who were living in the Military Frontier of the Habsburg Monarchy.Some Serbian historians, citing a document issued by Emperor Leopold I in 1690, claim that the masses were "invited" to come to Hungary. The original text in Latin shows that Serbs were actually advised to rise up against the Ottomans and "not to desert" their ancestral lands. As Habsburg frontier militiamen, they were exempt from communal and church autonomy as well as feudal obligations while Croats were not. Historian Leon Carl Brown notes that this became a source of Croat resentment and Serb determination to defend their status which became articulated in nationalist sentiments and ideologies in later history. However, both Croat and Serb communities lived in peace, if not harmony until 1941. As Misha Glenny noted, in the 1830s Croatian nationalism began an oscillation between Pan-Slavic, pro-Austrian and anti-Serb orientations. A politically provoking moment came with Serbian minister Ilija Garašanin's Načertanije foreign policy programme (1844), a document that went unpublished until 1906. The plan controversially proposed the unification of lands inhabited by Bulgarians, Macedonians, Albanians, Montenegrins, Bosnians, and Croats under a Serbian dynasty. Garašanin's plan also included methods of spreading Serbian influence in claimed lands and onto Croats, who Garašanin regarded as mere Catholic Serbs, writing: "Special attention must be paid to diverting peoples of the Roman Catholic faith from Austria and her influence, and their greater inclination towards Serbia should be fostered." The document is one of the most contested of nineteenth-century Serbian history, with rival interpretations.
Anti-Serb sentiment had already been expressed during the 19th century when Croatian intellectuals began to make plans for their own nation state,they viewed the presence of more than one million Serbs in Krajina and Slavonia as intolerable. Anti-Serb sentiment as an integral part of Croatian nationalism was actively propagated from the 1850s by Ante Starčević, Eugen Kvaternik and Josip Frank. Starčević, a 19th-century nationalist, was a major ideological influence on the Croatian nationalism of the Ustaše, he was an advocate of Croatian unity and independence and was both anti-Habsburg and anti-Serb. For him, Serbs were an "unclean race" bound together only by servile nature who should be forced to submit to Croatian political hegemony. Starčević envisioned the creation of a Greater Croatia that would include territories inhabited by Bosniaks, Serbs, and Slovenes, considering Bosniaks and Serbs to be Croats who had been converted to Islam and Eastern Orthodox Christianity and considering the Slovenes to be "mountain Croats". The Austro-Hungarian occupation of Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1878 probably contributed to the development of Starčević's anti-Serb sentiment: He believed that it increased chances for the creation of Greater Croatia. Starčević argued that the large Serb presence in the territories that were claimed by a Greater Croatia was the result of recent settlement, which had been encouraged by the Habsburg rulers, along with the influx of groups like Vlachs who took up Eastern Orthodox Christianity and identified themselves as Serbs. In 1902 major anti-Serb riots in Croatia were caused by reprinted article written by Serb Nikola Stojanović that was published in the publication of the Serbian Independent Party from Zagreb titled Do istrage vaše ili naše (Till the Annihilation, yours or ours) in which denying of the existence of Croat nation as well as forecasting the result of the "inevitable" Serbian-Croatian conflict occurred.
That combat has to be led till the destruction, either ours or yours. One side must succumb. That side will be Croatians, due to their minority, geographical position, mingling with Serbs and because the process of evolution means Serbhood is equal to progress.— Nikola Stojanović, Srbobran, 10 August 1902.
Following the defeat of the Central Powers in World War I and the collapse of Austria-Hungary, the Croat and Slovene-dominated State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs was established. This new state failed to gain recognition from the Great Powers. In a note of 31 October, the National Council in Zagreb informed the governments of the United Kingdom, France, Italy and the United States that the State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs was constituted in the South-Slavic areas that had been part of Austria-Hungary, and that the new state intended to form a common state with Serbia and Montenegro. The same note was sent to the government of the Allies-associate Kingdom of Serbia and the Yugoslav Committee in London. Serbia's prime minister Nikola Pašić responded to the note on 8 November, recognizing the National Council in Zagreb as "legal government of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes living in the territory of the Austria-Hungary", and notified the governments of the Allies asking them to do the same.On 23–24 November, the National Council declared unification of the provisional state with Kingdom of Serbia with the Kingdom of Serbia into a unified State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs". 28 members of the council were appointed to implement that decision based on adopted directions on implementation of the agreement with the government of the Kingdom of Serbia and representatives of political parties in Serbia and Montenegro. The instructions were largely ignored by the delegation members who negotiated with Regent Alexander instead. The agreement with Serbia would save Croatia from being partitioned by the Allies as part of vanquished Austria-Hungary, but the declaration did not specify whether the new state would be a federation of equal partners or would merely represent an extension of the Serbian administrative system.
This left Croats and Slovenes no choice but to join a union largely dominated by ethnic Serbs, which came to be known as the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. Upon its creation, the state was composed of six million Serbs, 3.5 million Croats and 1 million Slovenes. Being the largest ethnic group, the Serbs favoured a centralised state, whereas Croats, Slovenes and Bosnian Muslims did not.
Approved on 28 June 1921 and based on the Serbian constitution of 1903, the so-called Vidovdan Constitution established the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes as a parliamentary monarchy under the Serbian Karađorđević dynasty. Belgrade was chosen as the capital of the new state, assuring Serb and Orthodox Christian political dominance.In 1928, Croatian Peasant Party leader Stjepan Radić was assassinated in the country's parliament by a Montenegrin Serb leader and People's Radical Party politician Puniša Račić, during a tense argument. Radić's burial was massively attended and his death was seen as causing a permanent rift in Croat-Serb relations in the old Yugoslavia.
The following year, King Alexander I proclaimed the 6 January Dictatorship and renamed his country the Kingdom of Yugoslavia to remove any emphasis on its ethnic makeup. Yugoslavia was divided into nine administrative units called banovinas, six of which had ethnic Serb majorities.[ citation needed ] This decision was made following a proposal by the British ambassador to better decentralize the country, modeled on Czechoslovakia. This political move was aimed at bringing ethnic communities into one Yugoslav nation.
The anti-Croatian policies of the Serbian-dominated Yugoslav government in the 1920s and 1930s and the assassination of Croatian Peasant Party leaders in Parliament in June 1928 by a deputy of the main Serbian political party, were largely responsible for the creation, growth and nature of Croatian nationalist forces.In 1931, the King issued a decree which allowed the Yugoslav Parliament to reconvene on the condition that only pro-Yugoslav parties were allowed to be represented in it. Marginalised, far-right and far-left movements thrived. The Ustaše, a Croatian fascist party, emerged as the most extreme movement of these. The Ustaše were driven by a deep hatred of Serbs and Serbdom and claimed that, "Croats and Serbs were separated by an unbridgable cultural gulf" which prevented them from ever living alongside each other. They organized the so-called Velebit uprising in 1932, assaulting a police station in the village of Brušani in Lika. The police responded harshly to the assault and harassed the local population. In 1934, the Ustaše cooperated with Bulgarian, Hungarian and Italian right-wing extremists to assassinate Alexander while he visited the French city of Marseille. Alexander's cousin, Prince Paul, took the regency until the new king, Peter II, turned eighteen. Ustaše leader, Ante Pavelić, believed that the assassination would cause Yugoslavia to disintegrate. Instead, countries that had assisted the organisation, such as Italy and Hungary, cracked down on its members, arrested them, and destroyed their training camps at Yugoslavia's behest. According to historian Slavko Goldstein, the Ustaše planned to commit a genocide against ethnic Serbs for years prior to the outbreak of World War II.
One of Pavelić's main ideologues, Mijo Babić, wrote in 1932:
When blood starts to spill it will gush in streams. The blood of the enemy will turn into gushes and rivers, and bombs will scatter their bones like the wind scatters the husks of wheat. Every Ustaša is poised [...] to thrust himself upon the enemy, with his body and soul, to kill and destroy it. The dedication, revolvers, bombs, and sharp knives of the Croatian Ustaše will cleanse and cut whatever is rotten from the healthy body of the Croatian people.
Croatian opposition to a centralised Yugoslavia continued following Alexander's assassination, culminating with the signing of the Cvetković–Maček Agreement by Croatian politician Vladko Maček and Yugoslav Prime Minister Dragiša Cvetković on 26 August 1939. By signing the agreement, Belgrade sought to accommodate moderate Croats through the creation of a largely autonomous Banovina of Croatia which covered 27 percent of Yugoslavia's territory and included 29 percent of its population. It also ensured that Maček became Yugoslavia's deputy premier. Ultimately, the agreement was not successful—it led to other Yugoslav ethnic groups demanding a status similar to that of Croatia and failed to satisfy right-wing Croats such as those that had joined the Ustaše, who wanted a fully independent Croatian state.The Ustaše were enraged by the very notion of Maček having negotiated with Belgrade, denouncing him as a "sell out". Right-wing Croats quickly orchestrated anti-Serbian incidents across the newly formed Banovina, and in June 1940, a Croatian National-Socialist Party was established in Zagreb. On 25 March 1941, Yugoslavia bowed to German pressure and signed the Tripartite Pact in an effort to avoid war with the Axis powers. The Ustashe movement functioned as a terrorist organization as well.
Two days later, a group of Serbian nationalist Royal Yugoslav Air Force officers organised a coup d'état to depose Prince Paul and the government of Dragiša Cvetković.Peter was declared to be of age and was elevated to the throne. Upon hearing news of the coup, Adolf Hitler immediately ordered the invasion of Yugoslavia.
In April 1941, the Kingdom of Yugoslavia was invaded by the Axis powers and the puppet state known as the Independent State of Croatia was created, ruled by the Ustaše regime. However, the Ustashe received limited support from ordinary Croats.The ideology of the Ustaše movement was a blend of Nazism, Catholicism, and Croatian ultranationalism. The Ustaše supported the creation of a Greater Croatia that would span to the Drina river and the outskirts of Belgrade. The movement emphasized the need for a racially "pure" Croatia and promoted the extermination of Serbs (who were viewed as ethinic foreigners, ) Jews, and Gypsies.
The Ustaše used Starčević's theories to promote the annexation of Bosnia and Herzegovina to Croatia and they recognized Croatia as having two major ethnocultural components: Catholic Croats and Muslim Croats,because the Ustaše saw the Islam of the Bosnian-Muslims as a religion which "keeps true the blood of Croats." Armed struggle, genocide and terrorism were glorified by the group. Alexander Korb wrote:
A German-Croatian agreement enabled Ustaša militias and Croatian state agents to unleash a campaign ethnic cleansing directed against the Serbs who lived on the soil the Ustaša claimed was part of Greater Croatia
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After Nazi forces entered Zagreb on 10 April 1941, Pavelić's closest associate Slavko Kvaternik, proclaimed the formation of the Independent State of Croatia (NDH) on a Radio Zagreb broadcast. Meanwhile, Pavelić and several hundred Ustaše volunteers left their camps in Italy and travelled to Zagreb, where Pavelić declared a new government on 16 April 1941. : Führer, English: Chief leader). The Independent State of Croatia was declared to be on Croatian "ethnic and historical territory".He accorded himself the title of "Poglavnik" (German
This country can only be a Croatian country, and there is no method we would hesitate to use in order to make it truly Croatian and cleanse it of Serbs, who have for centuries endangered us and who will endanger us again if they are given the opportunity.— Milovan Žanić, the minister of the NDH government, on 2 May 1941.
As outlined by Ustaše ministers Mile Budak, Mirko Puk and Milovan Žanić, the strategy to achieve an ethnically pure Croatia was that:
The NDH combined most of modern Croatia, all of modern Bosnia and Herzegovina and parts of modern Serbia into an "Italian-German quasi-protectorate".NDH authorities, led by the Ustaše militia, then implemented genocidal policies against the Serb, Jewish and Romani populations living in the new state.
Viktor Gutić made several speeches in early summer 1941, calling Serbs "former enemies" and "unwanted elements" to be cleansed and destroyed, and also threatened Croats who did not support their cause.Much of the ideology of the Ustaše was based on Nazi racial theory. Like the Nazis, the Ustaše deemed Jews, Romani, and Slavs to be sub-humans ( Untermensch ). They endorsed the claims from German racial theorists that Croats were not Slavs but a Germanic race. Their genocides against Serbs, Jews, and Romani were thus expressions of Nazi racial ideology. Adolf Hitler supported Pavelić in order to punish the Serbs. Historian Michael Phayer explained that the Nazis’ decision to kill all of Europe's Jews is estimated by some to have begun in the latter half of 1941 in late June which, if correct, would mean that the genocide in Croatia began before the Nazi killing of Jews. Jonathan Steinberg stated that the crimes against Serbs in the NDH were the “earliest total genocide to be attempted during the World War II”.
In 1941, the usage of the Cyrillic script was banned,and in June 1941 began the elimination of "Eastern" (Serbian) words from the Croatian language, as well as the shutting down of Serbian schools. Ante Pavelić ordered, through the "Croatian state office for language", the creation of new words from old roots (some which are used today), and purged many Serbian words.
The Ustaše set up temporary concentration camps in the spring of 1941 and laid the groundwork for a network of permanent camps in autumn.The creation of concentration camps and extermination campaign of Serbs had been planned by the Ustaše leadership long before 1941. In Ustaše state exhibits in Zagreb, the camps were portrayed as productive and "peaceful work camps", with photographs of smiling inmates.
Serbs, Jews and Romani were arrested and sent to concentration camps such as Jasenovac, Stara Gradiška, Gospić and Jadovno. There were 22–26 camps in NDH in total.Historian Jozo Tomasevich described that the Jadovno concentration camp itself acted as a "way station" en route to pits located on Mount Velebit, where inmates were executed and dumped.
The largest and most notorious camp was the Jasenovac-Stara Gradiška complex, October 1942, and also boasted: "We have slaughtered here at Jasenovac more people than the Ottoman Empire was able to do during its occupation of Europe."the largest extermination camp in the Balkans. An estimated 100,000 inmates perished there, most Serbs. Vjekoslav "Maks" Luburić, the commander-in-chief of all the Croatian camps, announced the great "efficiency" of the Jasenovac camp at a ceremony on 9
Bounded by rivers and two barbed-wire fences making escape unlikely, the Jasenovac camp was divided into five camps, the first two closed in December 1941, while the rest were active until the end of the war. Stara Gradiška (Jasenovac V) held women and children. The Ciglana (brickyards, Jasenovac III) camp, the main killing ground and essentially a death camp, had 88% mortality rate, higher than Auschwitz's 84.6%.A former brickyard, a furnace was engineered into a crematorium, with witness testimony of some, including children, being burnt alive and stench of human flesh spreading in the camp. Luburić had a gas chamber built at Jasenovac V, where a considerable number of inmates were killed during a three-month experiment with sulfur dioxide and Zyklon B, but this method was abandoned due to poor construction. Still, that method was unnecessary, as most inmates perished from starvation, disease (especially typhus), assaults with mallets, maces, axes, poison and knives. The srbosjek ("Serb-cutter") was a glove with an attached curved blade designed to cut throats. Large groups of people were regularly executed upon arrival outside camps and thrown into the river. Unlike German-run camps, Jasenovac specialized in brutal one-on-one violence, such as guards attacking barracks with weapons and throwing the bodies in the trenches. Some historians use a sentence from German sources: “Even German officers and SS men lost their cool when they saw (Ustaše) ways and methods.”
The infamous camp commander Filipović, dubbed fra Sotona ("brother Satan") and the "personification of evil", on one occasion drowned Serb women and children by flooding a cellar.Filipović and other camp commanders (such as Dinko Šakić and his wife Nada Šakić, the sister of Maks Luburić), used ingenious torture. There were throat-cutting contests of Serbs, in which prison guards made bets among themselves as to who could slaughter the most inmates. It was reported that guard and former Franciscan priest Petar Brzica won a contest on 29 August 1942 after cutting the throats of 1,360 inmates. Inmates were tied and hit over the head with mallets and half-alive hung in groups by the Granik ramp crane, their intestines and necks slashed, then dropped into the river. When the Partisans and Allies closed in at the end of the war, the Ustaše began mass liquidations at Jasenovac, marching women and children to death, and shooting most of the remaining male inmates, then torched buildings and documents before fleeing. Many prisoners were victims of rape, sexual mutilation and disembowelment, while induced cannibalism amongst the inmates also took place. Some survivors testified about drinking blood from the slashed throats of the victims and soap making from human corpses.
The Independent State of Croatia was the only Axis satellite to have erected camps specifically for children.Special camps for children were those at Sisak, Đakovo and Jastrebarsko, while Stara Gradiška held thousands of children and women.
The Holocaust and genocide survivors, including Božo Švarc, testified that Ustaše tore off the children's hands, as well as, “apply a liquid to children’s mouths with brushes”, which caused the children to scream and later die.The Sisak camp commander, aphysician Antun Najžer, was dubbed the "Croatian Mengele" by survivors.
Diana Budisavljević, a humanitarian of Austrian descent, carried out rescue operations and saved more than 15,000 children from Ustaše camps.
A large number of massacres were committed by the NDH armed forces, Croatian Home Guard (Domobrani) and Ustaše Militia.
The Ustaše Militia was organised in 1941 into five (later 15) 700-man battalions, two railway security battalions and the elite Black Legion and Poglavnik Bodyguard Battalion (later Brigade). They were predominantly recruited among the uneducated population and working class.
In the summer of 1941, Ustaše militias and death squads burnt villages and killed thousands of civilian Serbs in the country-side in sadistic ways with various weapons and tools. Men, women, children were hacked to death, thrown alive into pits and down ravines, or set on fire in churches.Some Serb villages near Srebrenica and Ozren were wholly massacred while children were found impaled by stakes in villages between Vlasenica and Kladanj. The Ustaše cruelty and sadism shocked even Nazi commanders. A Gestapo report to Reichsführer SS Heinrich Himmler, dated 17 February 1942, stated:
Increased activity of the bands [of rebels] is chiefly due to atrocities carried out by Ustaše units in Croatia against the Orthodox population. The Ustaše committed their deeds in a bestial manner not only against males of conscript age, but especially against helpless old people, women and children. The number of the Orthodox that the Croats have massacred and sadistically tortured to death is about three hundred thousand.
Charles King emphasized that the concentration camps losing their central place in the Holocaust and genocide research because a large proportion of victims perished in mass executions, ravines and pits.He explained that the actions of the German allies, including the Croatian one, and the town- and village-level elimination of minorities also played a significant role.
On 28 April 1941, approximately 184–196 Serbs from Bjelovar were summarily executed, after arrest orders by Kvaternik. It was the first act of mass murder committed by the Ustaše upon coming to power, and presaged the wider campaign of genocide against Serbs in the NDH that lasted until the end of the war. A few days following the massacre of Bjelovar Serbs, the Ustaše rounded up 331 Serbs in the village of Otočac. The victims were forced to dig their own graves before being hacked to death with axes. Among the victims was the local Orthodox priest and his son. The former was made to recite prayers for the dying as his son was killed. The priest was then tortured, his hair and beard was pulled out, eyes gouged out before he was skinned alive.
Between 29 and 37 July 1941, 280 Serbs were killed and thrown into pits near Kostajnica.A large scale massacres took place in Staro Selo Topusko, Vojišnica and Vrginmost About 60% of Sadilovac residents lost their lives during the war. More than 400 Serbs were killed in their homes, including 185 children. On 31 July 1942, in the Sadilovac church the Ustaše under Milan Mesić's command massacred more than 580 inhabitants of the surrounding villages, including about 270 children.
On 11 or 12 May 1941, 260–300 Serbs were herded into an Orthodox church and shot, after which it was set on fire. The idea for this massacre reportedly came from Mirko Puk, who was the Minister of Justice for the NDH.On 10 May, Ivica Šarić, a specialist for such operations traveled to the town of Glina to meet with local Ustaše leadership where they drew up a list of names of all the Serbs between sixteen and sixty years of age to be arrested. After much discussion, they decided that all of the arrested should be killed. Many of the town's Serbs heard rumors that something bad was in store for them but the vast majority did not flee. On the night of 11 May, mass arrests of male Serbs over the age of sixteen began. The Ustaše then herded the group into an Orthodox Church and demanded that they be given documents proving the Serbs had all converted to Catholicism. Serbs who did not possess conversion certificates were locked inside and massacred. The church was then set on fire, leaving the bodies to burn as Ustaše stood outside to shoot any survivors attempting to escape the flames.
A similar massacre of Serbs occurred on 30 July 1941. 700 Serbs were gathered into a church under the premise that they would be converted. Victims were killed by having their throats cut or by having their heads smashed in with rifle butts. Between 500–2000 other Serbs were later massacred in neighbouring villages by Vjekoslav "Maks" Luburić's forces, continuing until 3 August. In these massacres specifically males 16 years and older were killed.Only one of the victims, Ljubo Jednak, survived by playing dead.
On 6 August 1941, the Ustaše killed and burned more than 280 villagers in Mlakva, including 191 children.Between June and August 1941, about 890 Serbs from Ličko Petrovo Selo and Melinovac were killed and thrown in the so-called Delić pit.
During the war, the Ustaše massacred more than 900 Serbs in Divoselo, more than 500 in Smiljan, as well as more than 400 in Široka Kula near Gospić.On 2 August 1941, the Ustaše trapped about 120 children and women and 50 men who tried to escape from Divoselo. After a few days of imprisonment, where women were raped, they were stabbed in groups and thrown into the pits.
On 21 December 1941, approximately 880 Serbs from Dugo Selo Lasinjsko and Prkos Lasinjski were killed in the Brezje forest.On the Serbian New Year, 14 January 1942, the biggest slaughter of the civilians from Slavonia started. Villages were burned, and about 350 people were deported to Voćin and executed.
In August 1942, following the joint military anti-partisan operation in the Syrmia by the Ustaše and German Wehrmacht, it turned into a massacre by the Ustaše militia that left up to 7,000 Serbs dead.Among those killed was the prominent painter Sava Šumanović, who was arrested along with 150 residents of Šid, and then tortured by having his arms cut off.
In August 1941 on the Eastern Orthodox Elijah's holy day, who is the patron saint of Bosnia and Herzegovina, between 2,800 and 5,500 Serbs from Sanski Most and the surrounding area were killed and thrown into pits which have been dug by victims themselves.
During the war, the NDH armed forces killed over 7,000 Serbs in the municipality of Kozarska Dubica, while the municipality lost more than half of its pre-war population.The biggest massacre was committed by the Croatian Home Guard in January 1942, when the village Draksenić was burned and more than 200 were people killed.
In February 1942, the Ustaše under Miroslav Filipović's command massacred 2,300 adults and 550 children in Serb-populated villages Drakulić, Motike and Šargovac.The children were chosen as the first victims and their body parts were cut off.
From July to September 1941, some 15,000 Serbs were massacred along with some Jews and Roma victims at Garavice, an extermination location near Bihać. On the night of 17 June 1941, Ustaše began the mass killing of previously captured Serbs, who were brought by trucks from the surrounding towns to Garavice.The bodies of the victims were thrown into mass graves. A large amount of blood contaminated the local water supply.
On 9 May 1941, approximately 400 Serbs were rounded up from several villages and executed in a pit behind a school in the village of Blagaj.From 4–6 August 1941, 650 women and children killed by being thrown into the Golubinka pit near Šurmanci. Also, hand grenades were thrown at dead bodies. Some 4000 Serbs later massacred in neighbouring places during that summer.
In the Livno Field area, the Ustaše killed over 1,200 Serbs includiing 370 children.In the Koprivnica Forest near Livno, around 300 citizen were tortured and killed. About 300 children, women and the elderly were killed and thrown into the Ravni Dolac pit in Donji Rujani.
Some 70-200 Serbs massacred by Muslim Ustaše forces in Rašića Gaj, Vlasenica in Bosnia and Herzegovina between 22 June and 20 July 1941, after raping women and girls.Many Serbs were executed by Ustaše along the Drina Valley for a months, especially near Višegrad. Jure Francetić's Black Legion killed thousands of defenceless Bosnian Serb civilians and threw their bodies into the Drina river. In 1942, about 6,000 Serbs were killed in Stari Brod near Rogatica and Miloševići.
During the summer of 1941, Ustaše militia periodically interned and executed groups of Sarajevo Serbs.In August 1941, they arrested about one hundred Serbs suspected of ties to the resistance armies, mostly church officials and members of the intelligentsia, and executed them or deported the to concentration camps. The Ustaše killed at least 323 people in the Villa Luburić, a slaughter house and place for torturing and imprisoning Serbs, Jews and political dissidents.
By mid-1941, 5,000 Serbs had been expelled to German-occupied Serbia.The general plan was to have prominent people deported first, so their property could be nationalized and the remaining Serbs could then be more easily manipulated. By the end of September 1941, about half of the Serbian Orthodox clergy, 335 priests, had been expelled.
The Drina is the border between the East and West. God’s Providence placed us to defend our border, which our allies are well aware and value, because for centuries we have proven that we are good frontiersmen.
The Ustaše set up holding camps, with the aim of gathering a large number of people and deporting them.The NDH government also formed the Office of Colonization to resettle Croats on reclaimed land. An estimated 120,000 Serbs were deported from the NDH to German-occupied Serbia, and 300,000 fled by 1943. By the end of July 1941 according to the German authorities in Serbia, 180,000 Serbs defected from the NDH to Serbia and by the end of September that number exceeded 200,000. In that same period 14,733 persons were legally relocated from the NDH to Serbia. In October 1941, organized migration was stopped because the German authorities in Serbia forbid further immigration of Serbs. According to documentation of the Commissariat for Refugees and Immigrants in Belgrade, in 1942 and 1943 illegal departures of individuals from NDH to Serbia still existed, numbering an estimated 200,000 though these figures are incomplete.
The Ustaše viewed religion and nationality as being closely linked; while Roman Catholicism and Islam (Bosnian Muslims were viewed as Croats) were recognized as Croatian national religions, Eastern Orthodoxy was deemed inherently incompatible with the Croatian state project.They saw Orthodoxy as hostile because it was identified as Serb. On 3 May 1941 a law was passed on religious conversions, pressuring Serbs to convert to Catholicism and thereby adopt Croat identity. This was made on the eve of Pavelić's meeting with Pope Pious XII in Rome. The Catholic Church in Croatia, headed by archbishop Aloysius Stepinac, greeted it and adopted it into the Church's internal law. The term "Serbian Orthodox" was banned in mid-May as being incompatible with state order, and the term "Greek-Eastern faith" was used in its place. By the end of September 1941, about half of the Serbian Orthodox clergy, 335 priests, had been expelled.
The Ustaša movement is based on religion. Therefore, our acts stem from our devotion to religion and the Roman Catholic church.— the chief Ustaše ideologist Mile Budak, 13 July 1941.
Ustaše propaganda legitimized the persecution as being partially based on the historic Catholic–Orthodox struggle for domination in Europe and Catholic intolerance towards the "schismatics".Following the Serb insurgency which was provoked by the Ustaše's reign of terror, killings and deportation campaign, the State Directorate for Regeneration launched a program in the autumn of 1941 which was aimed at the mass forced conversion of the Serbs. Already in the summer, the Ustaše had closed or destroyed most of the Serbian Orthodox churches and monasteries and deported, imprisoned or murdered Orthodox priests and bishops. The conversions were meant to Croatianize and permanently destroy the Serbian Orthodox Church.
The Vatican was not opposed to the forced conversions. On 6 February 1942, Pope Pious XII privately received 206 Ustaše members in uniforms and blessed them, symbolically supporting their actions.On 8 February 1942 envoy to the Holy See Rusinović said that 'the Holy See joyed' over forced conversions. In a 21 February 1942 letter to Cardinal Luigi Maglione, the Holy See's secretary encouraged the Croatian bishops to speed up the conversions, and he also stated that the term "Orthodox" should be replaced with the terms "apostates or schismatics". Many fanatical Catholic priests joined the Ustaše, blessed and supported their work, and participated in killings and conversions.
In 1941–1942,some 200,000 or 240,000 –250,000 Serbs were converted to Roman Catholicism, although most of them only practiced it temporarily. Converts would sometimes be killed anyway, often in the same churches where they were re-baptized. 85% of the Serbian Orthodox clergy was killed or expelled. In Lika, Kordun and Banija alone, 172 Serbian Orthodox churches were closed, destroyed, or plundered. On 2 July 1942, the Croatian Orthodox Church was founded in order to replace the institutions of the Serbian Orthodox Church, after the matter of forced conversion had become extremely controversial.
The Encyclopedia of the Holocaust described that the bishops' conference that met in Zagreb in November 1941 was not prepared to denounce the forced conversion of Serbs that had taken place in the summer of 1941, let alone condemn the persecution and murder of Serbs and Jews.Many Catholic priests in Croatia approved of and supported the Ustaše's large scale attacks on the Serbian Orthodox Church, and the Catholic hierarchy did not issue any condemnation of the crimes, either publicly or privately. In fact, The Croatian Catholic Church and the Vatican viewed the Ustaše's policies against the Serbs as being advantageous to Roman Catholicism.
Bishops and metropolitans of the Serbian Orthodox Church dioceses in the Independent State of Croatia were targeted during religious persecutions:
A cardinal Aloysius Stepinac served as Archbishop of Zagreb during World War II and pledged his loyalty to the NDH. Scholars still debate the degree of Stepinac's contact with the Ustaše regime.Mark Biondich stated that he was not an “ardent supporter” of the Ustahsa regime legitimising their every policy, nor an “avowed opponent” publicly denounced its crimes in a systematic manner. While some clergy committed war crimes in the name of the Catholic Church, Stepinac practiced a wary ambivalence. He was an early supporter of the goal of creating an Catholic Croatia, but soon began to question the regime's mandate of forced conversion.
Historian Tomasevich praised his statements that were made against the Ustaše regime by Stepinac, as well as his actions against the regime. However, he also noted that these same statements and actions had shortcomings in respect to Ustaše's genocidal actions against the Serbs and the Serbian Orthodox Church. As Stepinac failed to publicly condemn the genocide waged against the Serbs by the Ustaše earlier during the war as he would later on. Tomasevich stated that Stepinac's courage against the Ustaše state earned him great admiration among anti-Ustaše Croats in his flock along with many others. However this came with the price of enmity of the Ustaše and Pavelić personally. In the early part of the war, he strongly supported a Yugoslavian state organized with federal lines. It was generally known that Stepinac and Pavlović thoroughly hated each other.The Germans considered him Pro-Western and “friend of the Jews” leading to hostility from German and Italian forces.
On 14 May 1941, Stepinac received word of an Ustaše massacre of Serb villagers at Glina. On the same day, he wrote to Pavelić saying:
I consider it my bishop's responsibility to raise my voice and to say that this is not permitted according to Catholic teaching, which is why I ask that you undertake the most urgent measures on the entire territory of the Independent State of Croatia, so that not a single Serb is killed unless it is shown that he committed a crime warranting death. Otherwise, we will not be able to count on the blessing of heaven, without which we must perish.
These were still private protest letters. Later in 1942 and 1943, Stepinac started to speak out more openly against the Ustaše genocides, this was after most of the genocides were already committed, and it became increasingly clear the Nazis and Ustaše will be defeated.In May 1942, Stepinac spoke out against genocide, mentioning Jews and Roma, but not Serbs.
Tomasevich wrote that while Stepinac is to be commended for his actions against the regime, the failure of the Croatian Catholic hierarchy and Vatican to publicly condemn the genocide "cannot be defended from the standpoint of humanity, justice and common decency".In his diary, Stepinac said that "Serbs and Croats are of two different worlds, north and south pole, which will never unite as long as one of them is alive", along with other similar views. Historian Ivo Goldstein described that Stepinac was being sympathetic to the Ustaše authorities and ambivalent towards the new racial laws, as well as that he was “a man with many dilemmas in a disturbing time”. Stepinac resented the interwar conversion of some 200,000 most Croatian Catholics to Orthodoxy, which he felt was forced on them by prevailing political conditions. In 2016 Croatia's rehabilitation of Stepinac was negatively received in Serbia and Republika Srpska, an entity of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
During the war as well as during Tito's Yugoslavia, various numbers were given for Yugoslavia's overall war casualties. [a] Estimates by Holocaust memorial centers also vary. [b] The historian Rory Yeomans concluded that the most conservative estimates state that 200,000 Serbs were killed by Ustaše death squads but the actual number of Serbs who were executed by the Ustaše or perished in Ustaše concentration camps may be as high as 500,000.Jozo Tomasevich said that the exact number of victims in Yugoslavia is impossible to determine. Sabrina P. Ramet estimated that at least 300,000 Serbs were "massacred by the Ustaše".
In the 1980s, calculations of World War II victims in Yugoslavia were made by the Serb statistician Bogoljub Kočović and the Croat demographer Vladimir Žerjavić. Tomasevich described their studies as being objective and reliable.Kočović estimated that 370–410,000 Serbs died in the NDH during the war. He did not estimate the number of Serbs who were killed by the Ustaše, saying that in most cases, the task of categorizing the victims would be impossible. Žerjavić estimated that the total number of Serb deaths in the NDH was 322,000, of which 125,000 died as combatants, while 197,000 were civilians. Žerjavić estimated that a total of 78,000 civilians were killed in Ustaše prisons, pits and camps, including Jasenovac, 45,000 civilians were killed by the Germans, 15,000 civilians were killed by the Italians, 34,000 civilians were killed in battles between the warring parties, and 25,000 civilians died of typhoid. The number of victims who perished in the Jasenovac concentration camp remains a matter of debate, but current estimates put the total number at around 100,000, about half of whom were Serbs.
The genocide scholar Israel Charny lists the Independent State of Croatia as the third most lethal regime in the twentieth century, killing an average of 2.51% of its citizens per year.Charny's definition of domestic democide doesn't only include genocide, but also politicide and mass murder, as well as forced deportation causing deaths and famine or epidemic during which regime withhold aid or act in a way to make it more deadly. American historian Stanley G. Payne stated that direct and indirect executions by NDH regime were an “extraordinary mass crime”, which in proportionate terms exceeded any other European regime beside Hitler's Third Reich. He added the crimes in the NDH were proportionately surpassed only by the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia and several of the extremely genocidal African regimes.
In Serbia as well as in the eyes of Serbs, the Ustaše atrocities constituted a genocide.Many historians and authors describe the Ustaše regime's mass killings of Serbs as meeting the definition of genocide, including Raphael Lemkin who is known for coining the word genocide and initiating the Genocide Convention. Croatian historian Mirjana Kasapović explained that in the most important scientific works on genocide, crimes against Serbs, Jews and Roma in the NDH are unequivocally classified as genocide.
Yad Vashem, Israel's official memorial to the victims of the Holocaust, stated that “Ustasha carried out a Serb genocide, exterminating over 500,000, expelling 250,000, and forcing another 250,000 to convert to Catholicism”.The Simon Wiesenthal Center, also, mentioned that leaders of the Independent State of Croatia committed genocide against Serbs, Jews, and Roma. Presidents of Croatia, Stjepan Mesić and Ivo Josipović, as well as Bakir Izetbegović and Željko Komšić, Bosniak and Croat member of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, also described the persecution of Serbs in the Independent State of Croatia as a genocide.
In the post-war era, the Serbian Orthodox Church considered the Serbian victims of this genocide to be martys. As a result, the Serbian Orthodox Church commemorates the Holy New Martys of Jasenovac Concentration Camp on 13 September.
The Yugoslav communist authorities did not use the Jasenovac camp as was done with other European concentration camps, most likely due to Serb-Croat relations. They recognized that ethnic tensions stemming from the war could had the capacity to destabilize the new communist regime, tried to conceal wartime atrocities and to mask specific ethnic losses.The Tito's government attempted to let the wounds heal and forge "brotherhood and unity" in the peoples. Tito himself was invited to, and passed Jasenovac several times, but never visited the site. The genocide was not properly examined in the aftermath of the war, because the Yugoslav communist government did not encourage independent scholars. Historians Marko Attila Hoare and Mark Biondich stated that Western world historians don't pay enough attention to the genocide committed by Ustaše, while several scholars described it as lesser-known genocide.
World War II and especially its ethnic conflicts have been deemed instrumental in the later Yugoslav Wars (1991–95).
Mile Budak and a number of other members of the NDH government, such as Nikola Mandić and Julije Makanec, were tried and convicted of high treason and war crimes by the communist authorities of the SFR Yugoslavia. Many of them were executed.Miroslav Filipović, the commandant of the Jasenovac and Stara Gradiška camps, was found guilty for war crimes, sentenced to death and hanged.
Many others escaped, including the supreme leader Ante Pavelić, most to Latin America. Some emigrations were prevented by the Operation Gvardijan, in which Ljubo Miloš, the commandant of the Jasenovac camp was captured and executed.Aloysius Stepinac, who served as Archbishop of Zagreb was found guilty of high treason and forced conversion of Orthodox Serbs to Catholicism. However, some claim the trial was "carried out with proper legal procedure".
In its judgment in the Hostages Trial, the Nuremberg Military Tribunal concluded that the Independent State of Croatia was not a sovereign entity capable of acting independently of the German military, despite recognition as an independent state by the Axis powers.According to the Tribunal, "Croatia was at all times here involved an occupied country". The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide were not in force at the time. It was unanimously adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 9 December 1948 and entered into force on 12 January 1951.
Andrija Artuković, Minister of Internal Affairs and Minister of Justice of the NDH who signed a number of racial laws, escaped to the United States after the war and he was extradited to Yugoslavia in 1986, where he was tried in the Zagreb District Court and was found guilty of a number of mass killings in the NDH.Artuković was sentenced to death, but the sentence was not carried out due to his age and health.
With the Partisan liberation of Yugoslavia, many Ustaše leaders fled and took refuge at the college of San Girolamo degli Illirici near the Vatican.Catholic priest and Ustaše Krunoslav Draganović directed the fugitives from San Girolamo. The US State Department and Counter-Intelligence Corps helped war criminals to escape, and assisted Draganović (who later worked for the American intelligence) in sending Ustaše abroad. Many of those responsible for mass killings in NDH took refuge in South America, Portugal, Spain and the United States. Luburić was assassinated in Spain in 1969 by an UDBA agent; Artuković lived in Ireland and California until extradited in 1986 and died of natural causes in prison; Dinko Šakić and his wife Nada lived in Argentina until extradited in 1998, Dinko dying in prison and his wife released. Draganović also arranged Gestapo functionary Klaus Barbie's flight.
Among some of the Croat diaspora, the Ustaše became heroes.Ustaše émigré terrorist groups in the diaspora (such as Croatian Revolutionary Brotherhood and Croatian National Resistance) carried out assassinations and bombings, and also plane hijackings, throughout the Yugoslav period.
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Some Croats, including politicians, have attempted to minimise the magnitude of the genocide perpetrated against Serbs in the Independent State of Croatia.Historian Mirjana Kasapović concluded that there are three main strategies of historical revisionism in the part of Croatian historiography: the NDH was a normal counter-insurgency state at the time; no mass crimes were committed in the NDH, especially genocide; the Jasenovac camp was just a labor camp, not an extermination camp.
By 1989, the future President of Croatia, Franjo Tuđman (who had been a Partisan during World War II), had embraced Croatian nationalism, and published Horrors of War: Historical Reality and Philosophy , in which he questioned the official number of victims killed by the Ustaše during the Second World War. In his book, Tuđman claimed that fewer than thirty-thousand people died at Jasenovac.[ citation needed ] Tuđman also estimated that a total of 900,000 Jews had perished in the Holocaust. Tuđman's views and his government's toleration of Ustaša symbols frequently strained relations with Israel. Nonetheless, in his book, he did confirm that genocide happened:
It is a historical fact that the Ustaše regime of NDH, in its implementation of the plan to reduce the 'hostile Serb Orthodox people in Croatian lands', committed a large genocidal crime over the Serbs, and proportionately even higher over the Roma and Jews, in the implementation of Nazi racial politics.
In 2006, a video was leaked showing Croatian President Stipe Mesić giving a speech in Australia in the early 1990s, in which he said that the Croats had "won a great victory on April 10th" (the date of the formation of the Independent State of Croatia in 1941), and that Croatia needed to apologize to no one for Jasenovac.Later on, Mesić apologized for his indecent statement and stated that he undoubtedly considered anti-fascism to be the basis of modern-day Croatia, appreciated Yugoslav Partisans and considered it necessary to "reaffirm anti-fascism as a human and civilization commitment in the function of the unavoidable condition for the building of a democratic Croatia, a country of equal citizens." In 2017, two new videos Mesić from 1992 were made public in which he stated that Jasenovac wasn't a death camp and praised Ustashe minister Andrija Artuković.
On 17 April 2011, in a commemoration ceremony, Croatian President Ivo Josipović warned that there were "attempts to drastically reduce or decrease the number of Jasenovac victims", adding, "faced with the devastating truth here that certain members of the Croatian people were capable of committing the cruelest of crimes." At the same ceremony, then Croatian Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor said, "there is no excuse for the crimes and therefore the Croatian government decisively rejects and condemns every attempt at historical revisionism and rehabilitation of the fascist ideology, every form of totalitarianism, extremism and radicalism... Pavelić's regime was a regime of evil, hatred and intolerance, in which people were abused and killed because of their race, religion, nationality, their political beliefs and because they were the others and were different."
Croatian historian and politician Zlatko Hasanbegović, who previously served as the country's Minister of Culture in 2016, has been accused of downplaying the crimes of the Ustaše and trying to rehabilitate their ideas in his work.In 1996, Hasanbegović wrote at least two articles in the magazine "The Independent State of Croatia", edited by the small far-right Croatian Liberation Movement party (HOP), in which he glorified the Ustaše as heroes and martyrs and denied crimes committed by the regime. In response, Hasanbegović denied being an apologist for the regime, stating that Ustaša crimes during the Second World War were "the biggest moral lapse" of the Croatian people in their history and that his words were taken out of context for political manipulation. An old black-and-white photo also resurfaced from the 1990s, published in the same magazine of Hasanbegović wearing a cap with what is allegedly an Ustaše Militia badge. He claimed the photo had been manipulated and that he wore a black cap of the Croatian Defence Forces (HOS).
Croatia's far-right often advocates the false theory that Jasenovac was a "labour camp" where mass murder did not take place.One prominent peddler is the far-right NGO "The Society for Research of the Threefold Jasenovac Camp". Its members include journalist Igor Vukić and academic Josip Pečarić who have written books promoting this theory. The Ideas promoted by its members have been amplified by mainstream media interviews and book tours. The last book, "The Jasenovac Lie Revealed" written by Vukić, prompted the Simon Wiesenthal Center to urge Croatian authorities to ban such works, noting that they "would immediately be banned in Germany and Austria and rightfully so". When asked if the society engaged in genocide denial, Vukić responded by saying "When it’s about genocide, it is often linked to Serbs. If it’s about that, we do deny it". Menachem Z. Rosensaft, the general counsel of the World Jewish Congress, condemned the affirmative column about Vukić's book written by Milan Ivkošić in the Večernji list , emphasizing that “there are horrific realities of history that must not be questioned, distorted or denied by anyone”.
Since 2016, anti-fascist groups, leaders of Croatia's Serb, Roma and Jewish communities and former top Croat officials have boycotted the official state commemoration for the victims of the Jasenovac concentration camp because, as they said, Croatian authorities refused to denounce the Ustaše legacy explicitly and they downplayed and revitalized crimes committed by Ustaše.In 2017, the Amnesty International reported that discrimination against ethnic minorities in Croatia remained widespread. They also pointed out hate speech, public officials "evoking fascist ideology" and difficulties in implementing the use minority languages and script in some towns. However the Croatian courts regularly prosecuted cases of defamation and insult to the honour and reputation of persons. These offences were classified as serious criminal offences under the Criminal Code. According to the 2018 European Commission against Racism and Intolerance report, racist and intolerant hate speech in public discourse is escalating in Croatia; and the main targets are Serbs, LGBT persons and Roma. Furthermore, there is a growing rise of nationalism, particularly among the youth, which primarily takes the form of praising the fascist Ustaše regime. The responses of the Croatian authorities to these incidents cannot be considered fully adequate.
The Croatian Wikipedia has received attention from international media for promoting a fascist worldview as well as a bias against Serbs by means of historical revisionism and negating or diluting the severity of the crimes that were committed by the Ustaše regime. The controversy erupted in September 2013 when a group of exiled Wikipedians started a Facebook page in order to discuss the takeover of the Croatian Wikipedia by right-wingers, bringing the issue to the attention of Croatian and Serbian news outlets.The issue was reported by Croatia's daily Jutarnji list and even made its print edition's front page on 11 September 2013. In one pertinent example, the Croatian page on the Jasenovac concentration camp refers to the camp as both a “collection camp” and a labor camp, and it downplays the crimes that were committed at Jasenovac, as well as the number of victims who died there, and it also relies on right-wing media and private blogs as references. Apart from whitewashing the crimes and vices of World War II-era criminals, the same thing is done for contemporary Croatian politicians and public figures.
In 2008, in Melbourne, Australia, a Croat restaurant held a celebration to honour Ustaše leader Ante Pavelić. The event was an "outrageous affront both to his victims and to any persons of morality and conscience who oppose racism and genocide", Dr. Efraim Zuroff, of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, stated. According to local press reports, a large photograph of Pavelić was hung in the restaurant, T-shirts with his picture and pictures of two other commanders who served in the 1941–45 Ustaše government were offered for sale at the bar, and the establishment of the Independent State of Croatia was celebrated. Zuroff noted that this was not the first time in which Croatian émigrés in Australia had openly defended Croat Nazi war criminals.
It is high time that the authorities in Australia find a way to take the necessary measures to stop such celebrations, which clearly constitute racist, ethnic, and anti-Semitic incitement against Serbs, Jews, and Gypsies.
Israeli President Moshe Katsav visited Jasenovac in 2003. His successor, Shimon Peres, paid homage to the camp's victims when he visited Jasenovac on 25 July 2010 and laid a wreath at the memorial. Peres dubbed the Ustaše's crimes a "demonstration of sheer sadism".
The Jasenovac Memorial Museum reopened in November 2006 with a new exhibition designed by a Croatian architect, Helena Paver Njirić, and an Educational Center, designed by the firm Produkcija. The Memorial Museum features an interior of rubber-clad steel modules, video and projection screens, and glass cases displaying artifacts from the camp. Above the exhibition space, which is quite dark, is a field of glass panels inscribed with the names of the victims.
The New York City Parks Department, the Holocaust Park Committee and the Jasenovac Research Institute, with the help of then-Congressman Anthony Weiner (D-NY), established a public monument to the victims of Jasenovac in April 2005 (the sixtieth anniversary of the liberation of the camps.) The dedication ceremony was attended by ten Yugoslavian Holocaust survivors, as well as diplomats from Serbia, Bosnia and Israel. It remains the only public monument to Jasenovac victims outside the Balkans.
Nowadays, оn 22 April, the anniversary of the prisoner breakout from the Jasenovac camp, Serbia marks the National Holocaust, World War II Genocide and other Fascist Crimes Victims Remembrance Day, while Croatia holds an official commemoration at the Jasenovac Memorial Site.Serbia and Bosnian entity of Republika Srpska hold a joint central commemoration at the Donja Gradina Memorial Zone.
In 2018, an exhibition named “Jasenovac – The Right to Remembrance” was held in the Headquarters of the United Nations in New York City within the marking of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, with the main goal of to foster a culture of remembrance of Serb, Jewish, Roma and anti-fascist victims of the Holocaust and genocide in the Jasenovac camp.On 22 April 2020, the president of Serbia Aleksandar Vučić had an official visit to the memorial park in Sremska Mitrovica, dedicated to the victims of genocide on the territory of Syrmia.
Commemoration ceremonies honoring the victims of the Jadovno concentration camp have been organized by the Serb National Council (SNV), the Jewish community in Croatia, and local anti-fascists since 2009, while 24 June has been designated as a "Day of Remembrance of the Jadovno Camp" in Croatia.On 26 August 2010, the 68th anniversary of the partial liberation of the Jastrebarsko children's camp, victims were commemorated in a ceremony at a monument in the Jastrebarsko cemetery. It was attended by only 40 people, mainly members of the Union of Anti-Fascist Fighters and Anti-Fascists of the Republic of Croatia. The Republic of Srpska Government holds a commemoration at the memorial site of the victims of the Ustaše massacres in the Drina Valley.
The Independent State of Croatia willingly cooperated with the Nazi “Final Solution” against Jews and Gypsies, but went beyond it, launching a campaign of genocide against Serbs in “greater Croatia.” The Ustasha, like the Nazis whom they emulated, established concentration camps and death camps.
Povijesna je činjenica da je ustaški režim NDH, u provedbi svojih planova o smanjenju ‘neprijateljskog srpsko-pravoslavnog pučanstva u hrvatskim zemljama’ izvršio velik genocidni zločin nad Srbima, a razmjerno još veći nad Romima i Židovima, u provedbi nacističke rasne politike.