NFCA Protests Jasenovac Monument in NYC
Set forth below is the text of a letter on behalf of the National Federation of Croatian Americans (NFCA) to the New York City Commissioner of Parks and Recreation. We had recently learned that a monument to the victims of Jasenovac is to be erected in Holocaust Park in Brooklyn. As you can see from the text of the letter, the monument will claim that "hundred of thousands" of people died in Jasenovac. The people behind this effort, the Jasenovac Research Institute, are rabid supporters of Greater Serbianism (see their web site at www.jasenovac.org).
I urge all who can, especially those resident in New York City, to write to their local representatives and to the Parks Commissioner to protest against this calumny against Croats. The Parks Commissioner's fax number is 212-36-1362. Shorter notes can be sent to him by email at http://www.nycgovparks.org/.
I note that the Council of Croatian Organizations in New York is working separately to try to meet directly with the Commissioner on this issue.
John P. Kraljic
April 8, 2005
Mr. Adrian Benepe
New York City Department of Parks and Recreation
830 5th Avenue
New York, New York 10021
Re: Holocaust Memorial Park - Brooklyn
I am an officer of the National Federation of Croatian Americans, a national organization representing 120,000 Croatian Americans. I am also a resident of New York City.
We were outraged to read that the City of New York has approved the erection of a monument in Holocaust Park in Brooklyn for the victims of the Jasenovac Concentration Camp which will reportedly include an inscription that "hundreds of thousands" of victims perished there. We understand that the monument is scheduled to be erected on or about April 15, 2005.
We certainly have no issue with commemorating the victims of the Jasenovac, who included tens of thousands of Croat victims as well as Serbs, Jews and Roma.
However, Greater Serbian interests have purposely inflated the number of victims of Jasenovac over the last 60 years in a pernicious campaign to denigrate the Croatian nation as being "genocidal in nature," to obscure the collaborationist work of Serbian Chetnik units in World War II, to deny the participation of hundreds of thousands of Croats in the Allied cause, and to further their campaign to deny the right of Croatia to exist as an independent and democratic state.
In this regard, the inflation of Jasenovac's victims played an integral role in the media campaign orchestrated by Slobodan Milosevic in preparation for his war on Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
No reputable historian has ever stated that the number of victims at Jasenovac was over 100,000 people. Indeed, the web site of the United States Holocaust Museum (www.ushmm.org/museum/exhibit/online/jasenovac) states that "[a]lthough further research may yield more exact figures, current estimates place the number of victims murdered by the [Ustasha] in Jasenovac during World War II between 56,000 and 97,000."
To allow a monument to be placed on New York City parkland with any inscription which exaggerates the number of victims of Jasenovac is both a smear on the Croatian-American community and an affront to the victims of that camp whose death is being used as a political tool to advocate questionable agendas.
We urge you to immediately put a stop to allowing the monument to be erected unless it accurately portrays the facts concerning Jasenovac.
Very truly yours,
John Peter Kraljic