(E) Letter to Mr. Zuroff
Letters To The Editors
Mr. Ephraim Zuroff
1 Mendele St.
Israel via fax 011-972-2-5631-276
Dec. 12, 2002
Dear Mr. Zuroff:
In your recent interview in the Croatian newspaper Slobodna Dalmacija
several questions were asked to which you replied with statements that
are not accurate. We are certain that you would understand our concern,
as no nation wants to see any misrepresentations carried forth in
For instance, you claimed that of the 40,000 people attending the
Thompson concert in Split, 1000 were wearing Ustasha hats! That would indeed have been tragic, but fortunately it was totally untrue. Upon our inquiring, the information we received from the people who were present at the concert, there were some ten people wearing such hats. These people should be ashamed, as they only harm Croatia's image and give support to those still influenced by Serb propaganda lies, believing that
Croatia is a fascist state. We cannot allow the whole Croatian nation to be accused. It would be as incorrect as identifying all the Jewish people with the extreme Right in Israel. Actually, one can find more skinheads-neonazis in the Western world that one would find in Croatia.
Please realize, Mr. Zuroff, that the Croatian Tricolor and the
checkerboard coat of arms have been Croatia's symbols for over one thousand years and consequently must be differentiated from the Ustasha symbols. To give you an example, the checkerboard was used as part of the coat of arms of the first Yugoslavia under the Serb king Alexander and was also as part of the second Yugoslavia under Tito. Each government added a different symbol over the checkerboard, a royal crown, a communist red star or a "U" for Ustasha. Governments came and went, but
the checkerboard remained. The Croatian national symbol can be compared to the national symbols of the Jewish people, as for instance the Star of David.
Your statement that practically half of Croatia's population supported the Ustashas totally belies the facts. In truth, before WWII by far the strongest political party in Croatia was the Peasant Party led by Stjepan Radic who was assassinated by a Serb in the Parliament in Belgrade in 1928 and was then led by Vladko Macek. Even during WWII only 2% of the
total population supported the Ustashas. Furthermore, Croatians were the first to organize the antifascist partisan forces in June 1941, establishing eleven divisions, barely two months after the Ustashe took power. (The Serbs in Serbia, while at least double the population, had only two.)
Why do you have the impression that Croatians do not know anything about the Holocaust? We know about it very well indeed, because it is constantly thrown into our faces - and only ours, for over fifty years. Croatia never denied what happened in Jasenovac when it came to light after the war, in contrast to the Serbs who do not want to admit the truth about their concentration camps of Sajmiste, Banjica and others, where they killed thousands of Jews during their own Nazi regime under
general Nedic. Serbs have been convincing the world that it was not the Serbs but only the Germans doing the killing. In fact no Church in recent history has been more antisemitic then the Serb Orthodox church. While Croatia erected a memorial in Jasenovac, the Serbs paved over their camps so no one would remember.
Croatia's President has publicly apologized to the Jewish people and there is an impressive list of Croatians who received the "Righteous Among Nations" recognition, among them also the father of the signer of this letter. This is our contribution about which we never hear anything and the young generations know very little of. Even Croatia's late Cardinal Stepinac, who has openly criticized the Ustashes' concentration
camps and killings and has personally saved hundreds of Jews, is being vilified. Keep in mind that Croatia, in all its thousand-year history, except for the four years as a Nazi puppet regime under Pavelic, has never been known as antisemitic.
Finally, regarding your commentary about the Sakic trial: Croatia as a newly independent state since 1991 has confronted its past and convicted Sakic within eight years of its existence, most of it war-time, while this did not take place during the 42 years of existence of communist Yugoslavia.
We hope you will receive this letter as it is intended - a well-meaning critique directed toward some of your false perceptions regarding the complex nature of Croatian-Jewish relations.
Hilda M. Foley
National Federation of Croatian Americans
13272 Orange Knoll
Santa Ana, CA 92705 USA
Vedran Deletis MD, PhD, New York, N.Y.
PS. We have taken the liberty to send you a few articles that might give you some additional insight.