|War raises old anxieties for
Reprinted from The Independent (London), October 21, 1991
Phil Davison in Kragujevac, Serbia
[posted 15 May 2001]
first time in nearly a quarter of a century, the Israeli flag flew and
the Israeli anthem was sung in public here yesterday as a small group of
Yugoslavian Jews gathered to remember a Nazi massacre 50 years ago to
Jewish leaders were also holding a crisis meeting in Belgrade last night
to discuss the situation of the Jewish community. They expressed
particular concern for 1,500 Jews in the breakaway republic of Croatia,
most of whom have not been in contact for two months or more as a result
of a cut in communications with the rest of Yugoslavia.
Coincidence yesterday's events may have been, but Jewish leaders were
unanimous in saying they saw worrying parallels between the Nazi and
pro-Nazi massacres of 50 years ago and the unease of Jews in Croatia
under the strongly nationalist regime in the breakaway republic today.
A Jewish community centre and cemetery were damaged by explosives two
months ago in the Croatian capital, Zagreb, and local Jews there have
been subjected to death threats and other intimidation. Jewish sources
revealed last night that several hundred Jews, mostly young to
middle-aged, have recently fled Croatia to Israel, via Budapest.
As Yugoslavia's 6,500 Jews constantly remind visitors, Hitler set up a
puppet regime of local Nazis in Croatia in 1941. That regime's forces,
known as the Ustashe, executed hundreds of thousands of Jews, Serbs,
gypsies and other ''undesirables'' in Croatia while German troops
carried out parallel massacres in Serbia itself.
''What worries us is that those in power in Croatia now are largely the
same as during the Nazi era,'' said Dr Klara Mandic, a senior Jewish
community leader at yesterday's ceremony. ''In some cases, they are
exactly the same people, now in their seventies and back from exile
under the Communists. In other cases, they are the children of the
''They wear the same black shirts, the same black trousers, many carry
the same ''Serbo-seks'' knives for the Serbs . Tudjman the Croatian
President would not dare touch Jews now that we have our own state to
protect us. But he has prepared an atmosphere similar to that at the
start of the Second World War and the fact is that many of the Croatian
groups are out of his control.
''We are extremely worried about Jews in Croatia. They are afraid to get
in touch with us. We have had messages reaching us underground from
them, saying 'It is safer that we don't try to call or write. The police
are watching and listening and we know we could be killed'.''
The Israeli symbols at yesterday's memorial ceremony were made possible
by an agreement earlier this month between Israel and Yugoslavia's
crumbling federal government to restore diplomatic ties. Relations had
been broken off by the Communist leader, Tito, after the 1967 Israeli-
Arab war. As things stand, with the Yugoslav government now little more
than a ghost, the two countries are unlikely to get a chance to exchange
About a dozen Jews gathered in heavy drizzle to see a monument unveiled
to 37 Jews gunned down by the Wehrmacht on October 20, 1941, on a grassy
slope in the Bagremar district of this town south of Belgrade. A similar
number of Jews were killed elsewhere in the town later the same day,
wiping out almost the entire Jewish population of the small industrial
town. Only one Jewish family now remains in Kragujevac.
But yesterday's Jewish visitors were joined by more than a hundred local
Serbs and the memorial service was led by both the Chief Rabbi of
Yugoslavia and a regional Christian orthodox priest.
The local Serbs will today hold a much larger memorial service for 7,000
townspeople, including 300 schoolchildren, executed in a single day by
the Nazis on the Sumarice slopes here on 21 October 1941. The Germans
ordered the massacre in reprisal for the killing of 50 German soldiers
in the previous two weeks by the Yugoslav resistance.
- BELGRADE (AP) - A
13-hour convoy from the besieged town of Vukovar braved mortars and
minefields to bring 109 wounded people to safety as fighting
continued in Croatia. The convoy of doctors and nurses from Medecins
Sans Frontieres and European Community monitors arrived back early
yesterday. However, one truck carrying aid workers and several
wounded hit a landmine outside Vukovar, seriously injuring two
raises old anxieties for Croatian Jews, The Independent (London),
October 21, 1991, Monday, FOREIGN NEWS PAGE; Page 10 , 725 words, From
Phil Davison in Kragujevac, Serbia
1991 Newspaper Publishing PLC * Posted here for Fair Use Only
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