Croatia Jews Avoid Official Holocaust Event Over Neo-Nazi Sentiment

Croatian Jews protested the government’s official Holocaust commemoration ceremony in the Jasenovac death camp by holding their own ceremony a week ahead of schedule.

Jasenovac was known as the “Croatian Auschwitz.” After the German invasion of Yugoslavia, they broke up the country. The placed Croatia under a puppet regime. The Croatian regime was a racist and anti-semitic regime. The Ustashe regime was responsible for many atrocities in its years in power.

In many ways, the Ustache imitated the Nazis and this included the building of a concentration camp, to exterminate all of those who they regarded as enemies or undesirables.

Tens of thousands were killed at the camp, including Jews, Serbs, and Gypsies. The camp was run by the Ustashe regime, who controlled Croatia as a puppet state for the Nazis. The Ustache murdered countless of people at this death camp. They devised brutal ways of killing people. Many people were murdered using a specially designed knife- strapped onto the hand of the executioner. This was to make the killing process quicker.

The Croatian government was marking the anniversary of the camp. this is not enough for many.

Ethnic Serbs and anti-fascist groups are also boycotting the official ceremony.

The protest is a warning to the new center-right government that took office in January over rising neo-Nazi sentiment in Croatia. There is a rising tide of right -wing sentiment and many see in this echoes of the Ustache past.

Some Croatian’s do not see the Ustache as war criminals, responsible for mass murder. Some see the Ustashe as the founding fathers of Croatia and downplay their crimes. They see them as patriots.

This has alarmed many in Croatia and outside the country.  This has been reinforced by recent incidents.

“This is an avalanche that has been rolling for more than a year,” said Ognjen Kraus, president of the Coordinating Committee of the Jewish Communities.

Pro-Nazi slogans were shouted at a rally attended by thousands, including Deputy Parliamentary Speaker Ivan Tepes.

Similar slogans were shouted at a soccer match between Israel and Croatia that was attended by Croatian Prime Minister Tihomir Oreskovic. This has led to European football authorities (UEFA), taking action against the Croatian Football Association.

Three-quarters of Croatia’s 40,000 Jews were killed by the Ustashe. They now make up less than 1% of the country’s population. Many of the community are elderly and they have been alarmed by the recent incidents.

Images: By Never will happen again & Petar Milošević both CC-BY-SA 3.0


Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE