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(E) Israel honors 6 Croats for saving Jews during WW2
By Nenad N. Bach | Published  01/29/2004 | History | Unrated
(E) Israel honors 6 Croats for saving Jews during WW2


Israel honors 6 Croats for saving Jews during WW2

Jan. 27, 2004
Israel honors 6 Croats for saving Jews during WW2
ZAGREB, Croatia

Six Croats were honored Tuesday for their courage in saving Jews from the Holocaust and defying the pro-Nazi and anti-Semitic policies of their homeland during World War II.

Some 40,000 Jews perished in concentration camps run by Croatia's Nazi quisling state during World War II, along with tens of thousands of Serbs, Gypsies and anti-fascist Croats.

The Medal of the Righteous awards were presented by Israeli Ambassador Yael Rubinstein, who expressed "profound gratitude" to those honored. Three of the six are still alive, and relatives of the other three received the medals in their name.

About 90 Croats so far have received the medal, created in 1953 by Yad Vashem, Israel's Holocaust museum, to honor non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews from persecution by the Nazis.

Rubinstein urged the young generation in Croatia, where many have yet to confront the country's checkered past, to learn more about the Holocaust.

"May those who were ready to risk their lives be an inspiration," she said.

President Stipe Mesic, who attended the ceremony, said that education was the key to preventing what he called revisionists from trying to falsify history.

The Ministry of Science, Education and Sport organized seminars throughout the country to mark the Holocaust Remembrance Day.

It marks the day when the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp complex - where more than 1.5 million people perished, 90 percent of them Jews - was liberated by advancing Soviet troops on Jan. 27, 1949.

In Germany and many other countries throughout the world, it is the day when people remember the Holocaust victims.

Croatia, whose World War II regime was a Nazi ally, held the remembrance day for the first time this year. As a member of the Council of Europe, Croatia accepted to mark it with speeches, school events and exhibitions.

Israel's relations with Croatia were frozen under Franjo Tudjman, the late president, whose policies often evoked nationalism harking back to World War II. In one of his books, Tudjman also questioned the number of Jews killed in the Holocaust.

The two countries established diplomatic relations in 1996, five years after Croatia broke away from Yugoslavia. But relations only warmed after Tudjman's death in 1999.


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