|(E) "Butcher of the Balkans"
|By Nenad N. Bach |
Letters to the Editors
(E) "Butcher of the Balkans"
Copy of my response to the attorney Levy, re "Butcher of the Balkans":
Attention: Mr. Jonathan Levy, Esq.
Dear Mr. Levy:
I am deeply disturbed by your article, copied below for your reference, both as a Croat and as a human being that believes in justice. As an attorney, I am sure that the concept of justice is hardly unclear to you; I am also entirely certain that you are more than familiar with the torts of slander and libel. Despite this, your article dated February 14, 2002, titled "The Original Butcher of the Balkans: Pavelic not Milosevic", is fraught with half-truths, exaggerations, unsubstantiated claims, and outright falsehoods; and is both patently unjust, and slanderous/libelous to the Croatian people and the Republic of Croatia. In fact, the article reads more like anti-Croatian propaganda than something a serious attorney would publish, as it is obviously not the result of honest research or a search for the truth. Of the myriad errors, let me at least attempt to edify you about the most serious ones:
1. Ante Pavelic was at no time a popularly elected leader of Croatia or the Croatian people. The founder of a small Fascistoid party, he was placed into power during WW2 by the Italians and Germans. He turned the Croatian people's rightful claim to independence into a sham, as the quasi-state he ruled was nothing but a Nazi puppet - something that clearly happened all over Europe at the time. However, he never garnered the support of more than a small percentage of the Croatian populace, as the Croatian people could see through his actions. In fact, a large percentage of the anti-fascist Partisan movement that fought against both Pavelic and the Germans and was lead by the Croat Tito, consisted of Croats. I direct you to any serious historic site or book for confirmation of these facts. Let me just add that Pavelic died in 1959 as a result of wounds sustained in an assassination attempt, not 'peacefully' as you claim.
2. The numbers of victims of the Pavelic regime you claim are inflated to the point of nausea. While every innocent victim is one too many, claims of "80,000 Jews and 500,000 Serbs" is an exaggeration of monumentous proportions. Croatia had a total Jewish population of less than 20,000 before WW2, while over 500,000 of the pre-war Serb population of just over 600,000 survived the war (with the approximately 100,000 lost being the result of ALL CAUSES). The math is simple, and I direct you to the authoritative book on this subject, Vladimir Zerjavic's "Losses of Yugoslav Population in WWII", for confirmation.
3. Notwithstanding the overblown claims as discussed above, none of WW2's occurrences have anything whatsoever to do with the Republic of Croatia of today. Today's independent Croatian state is a successor state to the anti-fascist ZAVNOH, and this is confirmed in the Croatian Constitution. The WW2 puppet state has nothing whatsoever to do with today's republic, which is a parliamentary democracy with free elections and a free press. The late Franjo Tudjman, whom you so wantonly and unfairly label "blood stained", was a high-ranked anti-fascist officer with the Partisans during WW2, and fought AGAINST Pavelic - hardly someone who would be a proponent of anything to do with a resurgence of the Ustasa movement.
4. Your claim that "many new public monuments" to the Ustashe are "springing up like toadstools after a spring rain" in Croatia is as ridiculous as it is untrue. I challenge you to substantiate this claim with anything approaching a primary source. I am personally aware of exactly ONE small plaque to an Ustasa officer being created, this being to Jure Francetic, and was the result of a private initiative and by no means a government project. In fact, the use of Ustasa insignia is as illegal in Croatia as the use of Nazi insignia is in Germany today.
There are many other small errors in your article, as well as clearly dubious claims from, may I say, suspect or even non-existent sources. I am shocked beyond description that a respectable law firm such as yours would publish and support an article that is clearly unsubstantiated rumour mongering, and that is hurtful and damaging to a sovereign state and its people at large. One can only surmise that you have been lead astray by biased propaganda, or that perhaps you have been retained to represent a person or persons with a strict anti-Croatian agenda. Either way, your conduct can only be described as highly unethical. I am certain that the Embassy of the Republic of Croatia will be looking into this matter as well.
(E) Reply to Jonathan Levy
Letters to Editors
Hilda M. Foley
At the very start I want to make it quite clear to you that Croatia is not by any stretch of the imagination the "successor state of the Ustasha NDH " as you have stated. Since you don't seem to be aware of it, during WWII the Pavelic regime
was installed by the Axis, Croats had no say in it. While Croatians wanted very much to achieve independence and get out from under the Serb dominance, they did not approve of the Pavelic methods of achieving it and just about 1% of the population were pro Ustasha. That fact ought to correct some of your misconceptions.
Your vicious anti-Croatian diatribe "Pavelic was the Real Butcher of the Balkans", is indeed tragic because it clearly shows how you have been totally taken in by more than fifty years of Serb propaganda. You are quoting the usual Serbian exaggeration regarding the number of Serb victims of WWII which stems from Tito's policy that inflated the numbers in order to receive a as large as possible restitution from Germany after WWII. Germany refused to pay until Yugoslavia submitted the actual numbers. These were published by the Yugoslav Annual Statistics in Belgrade and listed the number of Serbs that perished in Croatia and Bosnia of all causes as 295,000 as well as 247,000 Croats and Muslims. In his book in the 1980's "Calculation of Serbian Losses in the Territory of the NDH ", Croatian Vladimir Zerjavic quotes the Serb losses as 322,000 - that includes: killed by Germans and Italians, (50,000), typhoid (25,000), Jasenovac/Gradiska camp (50,000), other camps (28,000), civilians during battles (34,000) , Partisans (82,000), collaborators and quislings ( 23,000) and at the German camp in Zemun (20,000).
According to the Archives of the Yugoslav Communist Party, and they would certainly not underrate the Ustasha massacres, about 40,000 Serbs died in Jasenovac, the Jewish victims are listed as 16,000 in Croatia and 10,000 in Bosnia. The trial in Croatia two years ago of the Jasenovac camp commander has proven those figures to be correct and accepted by the Jewish community. Of course no one should condone the death of even one innocent person, yet at the same time, don't you find it strange that not a single Jewish researcher has investigated the Serb concentration camps run by the Nazi Serbs under general Nedic in Serbia during WWII, where 23,000 Jews perished - in Banjica, Sajmiste and others. While Croatia erected a memorial to the victims in Jasenovac, the Serbs destroyed their camp sites and built settlement over them.
By the way, contrary to your statement, Croatians only fought in Croatia and Bosnia, never set a foot on any other part of then-Yugoslavia. Just where is the proof that Croatians were killing Ukrainians?
One only has to wonder - or perhaps not really - where you are getting all this anti-Catholic information while totally ignoring the fact that the Serb Orthodox Church has always been virulently antisemitic. Their leaders called the Jews "the spawn of the devil" and during WWII proudly declared Belgrade "the first Jew-free city". Only recently, Vojislav Seselj, the murderous Serb paramilitary leader, under whose command thousands of Croats and Muslims were killed during the recent war, and who now sits in the Yugoslav Parliament in Belgrade, has written : "Kill every Jew, Croat and Albanian". In contrast, Croatians as a people, have never been known to be antisemitic.
There are many other issues I could address but I don't want to trouble you with too long a letter. Let me just touch on several: Did you know that Serb Chetniks were known for their massacres and viciousness even before WWII? Did you know that some 70,000 Croatians, ordinary soldiers and civilians, women and children fleeing from communism to Austria, were killed near Bleiburg by the communist partisans after the end of WWII? Their mass graves have been discovered yet no one ever mentions those victims.
I would suggest to you a few books : "Serbia's Secret War" by Philip Cohen,
Vladimir Zerjavic "Losses of Yugoslav Population in WWII" (1989 Zagreb,
Bogoljub Kocovic "WWII Victims in Yugoslavia" (1985 London) and Ljubica Stefan, recipient of the Medal of the Righteous Among the Nations, "From Fairy Tale to Holocaust". They might shed some light in this darkness of perception.
Hilda M. Foley
National Federation of Croatian Americans
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