ON THE DAY OF REMEMBRANCE OF GENOCIDE VICTIMS 2004

(Jasenovac, April 22, 1945)

For 20 years the Encyclopedia Britannica used to repeat the sentence:

“...In Bosnia ... the Croatian fascists began a massacre of Serbs which, in the whole annals of World War II, was surpassed for savagery only by the mass extermination of Polish Jews ...”

The world still does not know about the torturous death of hundreds of thousands of innocent human beings: Serbs, Jews, Roma people (Gypsies), men, women and children who met their horrible end at the death camp, Jasenovac. The world does not know that a flag almost identical to the flag of the bloody Nazi murderers is once again raised over the martyrs of Jasenovac.

The world is silent where the world should be screaming in shock and disbelief. Croat Nazis not only got away with a murder — they have tried to get away with a massive holocaust!

Should we allow it to happen? Should we remain silent? Are we not then a silent accomplice in this gigantic holocaust?

On April 22, 1945 over one thousand inmates, survivors of the Croatian genocide camp Jasenovac, attempted a desperate break through from certain, gruesome death. Only eighty-eight made it to freedom to tell of the horror they left behind.

It is an irony of justice that the 59th commemoration day of this tragedy [the deaths of the prisoners trying to breakout -TENC], and the hundreds of thousands of other Croatian Ustasha victims buried at the Jasenovac death camp, is marked with the release of the revisionist book “Jasenovac 1941-1945, Death and Labor Camp” by Ms. Natasa Mateusic, curator of the Jasenovac Museum.

After the Jasenovac Archive and artifacts were transferred back from US Holocaust Museum at Washington, DC to Jasenovac Museum, the Croatian authorities took a new approach in setting up the exhibition of the memorabilia. In the new arrangement, “there will be no display of killing mallets, daggers, shackles, chains and the special curved knife known by the infamous name of 'Serb-Cutter.'” (This was used by the Croatian Ustashi for the speedy slitting of the victim's jugular vein). In this approach, devised by the Croatian museum institution experts, Jasenovac will no longer be a site of horror, displaying mutilated, rotten corpses and filmed documentaries of the Croatian bestial destruction of humans. As Ms. Natasa Jovicic, Manager of the Jasenovac Memorial put it: “We are not going to legitimize the killing, but will instead commemorate the victims”.

The exhibition, “Jasenovac - System of Ustasha Death Camps”, organized by the Museum of Vojvodina and the Museum of Victims of Genocide, Belgrade, presented at the First International Conference on Jasenovac, held in New York in October 1997, and also at the Second International Conference on Jasenovac, held in Banja Luka and Donja Gradina ([Bosnian] Serb Republic) in May 2000, was labeled in the above mentioned Ms. Mateucis's book as a “propaganda of genocide-prone Croatian people (p. 158)”. In the same book, the Third International Conference on Jasenovac, held in Jerusalem in December 2002, was seen as “run in the spirit of suspicion toward Croatia in general, with implicit accusations that it is still concealing the truth about the Ustasha camp Jasenovac and the numbers of its victims.” The new Jasenovac exhibition does not mention the genocide the Ustashi committed against the Roma inmates.

During 2003, several books on Jasenovac have been published. The author of the book “Jasenovac-Numbers”, Mladen Ivezic, grossly minimizes the numbers of the victims slain in the Jasenovac camp. Here is one quote from his book: “In the concentration and labor camp of Jasenovac, i.e., in all camp workshops and camp divisions, at the work locations, such as in the forests, etc., including the Stara Gradiska camp, as well, from all possible causes, most likely the total number of lost lives ranges between 1,000 and 2,000, eventually, 3,000 , but it is impossible that more than 5,000 died (p. 200). A member of the Croatian Academy of Science and Art, Josip Pecaric, in his book “Malicious Books” (Nepocudne knjige), praises the conclusions, expressed by author Ivezic, as a “new scientific achievement”.

Narcisa Lengel-Krizman, in her book “Genocide of the Romas — Jasenovac 1941”, states “that the number of Romas killed in Croatia may, with a reasonable certainty, be estimated to be barely 8,500 (p. 62)”. That these numbers of Romas, who perished at the hand of the Croatian Ustashi, are false will be demonstrated by the following episode. During my visit to Jasenovac, on the Commemoration Day in 2002, Mr. Dragoljub Ackovic, President of Roma, took me to one grave site at Ustica, Donja Gradina, where lay the bones of about 12,000 Romas slaughtered by the Croatian Ustashi.

When HDZ Premier of Croatia, Ivo Sanader, recently paid a visit to the Jasenovac Memorial, the President of the Council of the Jasenovac Memorial, Slavko Goldstein, stated that not more than 80,000 inmates died at all Jasenovac complex killing locations. This number fairly matches up with the position of US Holocaust Museum in Washington, which estimates the number of victims to be up to 90,000. The Museum of Victims of Genocide, Belgrade, five years ago compiled a list of 79,800 victims with the names, first and last, the number which is a bare minimum and indicates that the real number of victims is multifold higher. The new Encyclopedia of Genocide brings the number of the Jasenovac victims to “the hundreds of thousands”. A researcher in the crimes the Croatian Ustashi committed in Jasenovac, Dragoje Lukic, compiled a list of 19,432 children, from babies one day old to youths of 14, with their first and last names. During the Third International Conference on Jasenovac, held in Jerusalem on December 29 and 30, 2002, I presented to Yad Vashem a list with names of 1,911 Jewish children who were cruelly slaughtered in the Jasenovac camps.

At the First International Conference on Jasenovac (New York, NY, 1997), Dr. Eli Rosenbaum, Director of the Office for Special Investigations, US Department of Justice, presented a document by the German occupation command, dated December 6, 1943, filed at US National Archives and announced by the US Department of State, revealing the numbers of victims as 120,000, at the Jasenovac camp and 80,000, at the Stara Gradiska camp. So, the total number of victims at both locations, reported by December 6, 1943, amounted to 200,000! This number has significantly augmented through the following, even bloodiest, 1944 year and through April 22, 1945. Croatian State Commission on WWII War Crimes, in its Report for International Commission on War Crimes (1946) estimated the number of the Jasenovac victims to be between 500,000 and 600,000. Encyclopedia of Holocaust sticks to figure of 600,000.

In her book “Jasenovac 1941-1945 — Death and Labor Camp”, Natasa Mateusic, referring to Slavko Goldstein, does not recognize the authority of the International Commission, nor the Jerusalem Declaration. One of the conclusions made in the Declaration calling for the next, forth international conference on Jasenovac, to be held at the site of Jasenovac, Croatia, or at the UNESCO Center in Paris, was the idea of preserving the Jasenovac Memorial Complex, now divided between the territory of both Croatia and the Serb Republic (Bosnia and Herzegovina), as a World Heritage site under UNESCO protection, as has been done with the Nazi death camp Auschwitz (World Heritage # 80). Goldstein and Mateusic concluded in their book that the Jasenovac Memorial Museum (JUSP) should organize an international symposium on the Ustashi camp Jasenovac of their own, extending an invitation for  participation to the individual members who attended the Third International Conference on Jasenovac, in Jerusalem in 2002, but not to the Conference as an institution.”

On this Day of Remembrance, I am pleading that the supporters of exposing and preserving the Jasenovac truth should urgently organize a meeting of an international commission on Jasenovac, and propose that the meeting be chaired by Dr. Bernard Klein, with Dr. Michael Berenbaum, Prof. Walter Roberts, Dr. Efraim Zuroff (Jerusalem), Vanita Singh (India), Dr. Marco Aurelo Rivelli (Italy), Dr. Jelena Guskova (Russia), Prof. Dr. S. Zivanovic (London, GB), Alexis Troude (France), Dr. Rajko Dolocek (Czek Republic), prof. Ian Hancock (Int. Roma Org.), Dr. Milan Bulajic (Coordinator).

The Commission would pursue the following agenda:

  • Implementation of the Jerusalem Declaration;
     
  • Preparation for the Fourth International Conference on Jasenovac;
     
  • Evaluation of the new projects on the Jasenovac Memorial complex;
     
  • Taking actions to place Jasenovac Memorial Complex under the UNESCO — World Heritage protection.

On this Day of Remembrance, it should be also remembered that Ustasha Minister of Police, Andrija Artukovic, was not tried in Zagreb, back in 1986, for genocide committed against the Orthodox Christian Serbs, Jews and Romas, and that the former commander of Jasenovac genocide camps, Dinko Sakic, was not in 1999, in Zagreb, tried for genocide, either. However, the ICTY Appeals Chamber in the Hague, on April 19, 2004, three days before [Holocaust] Commemoration Day, confirmed the Trial chamber Judgment, for an alleged genocide of Bosnian Muslims at Srebrenica in July 1995, against General Radislav Krstic, former Commandant of the [Bosnian] Serb Drina Corps.

In a recent duel on radio “Free Europe” with a representative of the Bosnia Muslim Federation, Jasmin Odabasic, I argued, as a PhD in International Law, that the [Bosnian] Serb Republic Army did not commit a genocide against Bosnian Muslims at Srebrenica. There could have been crimes of revenge, which should be legally investigated and prosecuted by identifying both victims and perpetrators. (For instance, there is evidence that mercenaries,  wearing uniforms of the [Bosnian] Serb Republic Army, killed Muslim POWs in order to blame their crimes on the Serbs. These mercenaries were paid by gold, 12 kg, DM's, German currency, and some were provided with jobs in Kosovo and Zaire).

The Bosnian Federation has sued Serbs and Yugoslavia for an alleged genocide against Bosnia Muslims, at the International Court of Justice at the Hague, asking for compensation of US $200 billions, according to the plaintiff's attorneys. The new Yugoslav government withdrew its countercharge against the Muslims for genocide against the Serb population in Bosnia and the Srebrenica area, without requesting a reciprocal withdrawal of the Muslims' indictment. Additionally, Croatia is also suing Serbs and Yugoslavia for an alleged genocide, forgetting the real genocide the Croats committed against the Krajina Serbs in the same year - 1995 - of the alleged Serbian genocide in Srebrenica. (Croatia's last census shows that only 4.2 percent of the current Croatian population is made up of Serbs, down from 12.3 percent before the Croatian onslaught on the Serbs, in 1991 and thereafter.)

In September 2002 the Director, Governing and Supervisory Boards of the Museum of Victims of Genocide in Belgrade, were “discharged” and the Museum was relocated to the city of Kragujevac. I, Milan Bulajic, the founder and for ten years director of the Museum, was forbidden to reenter it and reclaim even my personal documents and manuscripts, or the office equipment I had provided to the Fund for Genocide Research.

On this Day of Remembrance, I am pleading to Serbs, Jews, Romas and their friends, and all others concerned with these adverse developments, to reach out and help to continue the struggle to keep the truth of Jasenovac alive and visible.

 

Dr. Milan Bulajic, President
Fund For Genocide Research