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(E) Jasenovac in the NY Times
By Nenad N. Bach | Published  11/18/2001 | Politics | Unrated
(E) Jasenovac in the NY Times
This appeared in yesterday's NY Times. We should all congratulate Mr. 
Maras of the Croatian embassy for speaking up at the press conference. 
Also, note how this article desribes Jasenovac being set up by the 
"Republic of Croatia." It is also "one of the . . . most brutal camps" 
of WWII (one wonders how anyone can determine that). 
I think this article again points to what I have been urging: that the 
Croatian govt must obtain a PR firm to deal with these kinds of issues. 
This story, for ex., should have been "spinned" as how the bad Serbs 
stole items from Jasenovac and took them to Banja Luka. Moreover, I 
have read some estimates concerning the large number of ethnic Croat 
victims at the camp (among others, Vladko Macek was a prisoner there for 
some period of time). This was recognized in the press release of the 
US Holocaust Museum but not in this story. That is something that 
should have been emphasized as well and, again, a PR firm would have 
known how to have done that. 
Further, the most authoritative numbers that I read, compiled by Ivo 
Goldstein, show approx. 80,000 victims - here again, presumably for 
dramatic effect, Museum officials upped the number by 20,000, or 25%. 
Based on my past experience, we can argue till we're blue in the face 
that the number was overstated without convincing the newspapers. 
I also note the article states that 300,000 Serbs died throughout 
Croatia. This is inaccurate as this number also includes, I beleive, 
those who died in BH as well. Mr. Maras' points are well taken - this 
number includes combatants (i.e., Chetniks and Partisans). 
Moreover, as we all know, President Mesic was in Israel 2 weeks ago and 
as far as I am aware a story about his visit appeared in only one 
American paper, the LA Times, and in no Jewish-American publications (at 
least not yet). Presumably, a PR firm would have handled the story in 
such a manner to assure greater coverage of that event. 
I will share one point which caused me some concern during my meeting 
with President Mesic and Foreign Minister Picula. At least one member 
of the delegation did not beleive me when I said that the Croatian flag 
was consistently presented as a fascist/Ustashe flag in the US press. 
The argument was that if that were the case neither Israel nor the US 
would allow such a flag to be flown. 
This was a major point made by American and UK reporters during the war 
years. As we saw in the LA Times article, this continues to be a 
problem. The answer to this issue is very simple - the "sahovnica" coat 
of arms was also used by the Communists as part of the coat of arms of 
the SR Croatia. There's no way the Communists would have allowed a 
supposedly fascist symbol to be used. 
John Kraljic 
Documenting a Death Camp in Nazi Croatia 
WASHINGTON, Nov. 13 - Officials of the United States Holocaust Museum 
said today that they had discovered and preserved a cache of decaying 
documents and artifacts from one of the lesser-known but most brutal 
concentration camps of World War II. The camp, known as Jasenovac, was 
operated in Croatia by the Ustasha, the Nazi puppet government. 
The artifacts were found deteriorating in a building in Banja Luka in 
the Serbian part of Bosnia last year, officials said. 
Peter Black, the museum's chief historian, told reporters today that 
Jasenovac was crude in comparison to the industrialized Nazi 
extermination camps like Auschwitz. Mr. Black said there were no gas 
chambers or crematories, so prisoners were murdered one by one with 
axes, guns, knives or prolonged torture. Bodies were buried or thrown 
into the adjacent Sava River. 
Jasenovac (pronounced ya-SEN- oh-vatz), actually a complex of five camps 
about 60 miles from the Croatian capital, Zagreb, has been little 
studied in the West, but the history has long resonated in the modern 
Balkans, where analysts and historians have debated about how much of 
the region's violence may be traced to historic ethnic enmities. 
Mr. Black estimated that nearly 100,000 people had been killed in 
Jasenovac, the largest number being Serbs, followed by Jews and Gypsies. 
The camp was established by the Republic of Croatia to eliminate anyone 
who was not an ethnic Croatian. Mr. Black said a combination of factors, 
including the reluctance of officials to agree on what happened, had led 
to its history's remaining largely hidden from scholars until now. 
The collection includes 2,000 photographs, many of atrocities; tens of 
thousands of papers; and thousands of artifacts, like inmate crafts. 
Sara J. Bloomfield, director of the Holocaust Museum, said the project 
to save the documents and artifacts was especially significant because 
of the cooperation of the government of Croatia, whose history is cast 
in a poor light, as well as the governments of Serbia and Bosnia. Ms. 
Bloomfield said the governments had cooperated despite "the continuing 
sensitivity of all sides to this collection." 
That sensitivity was on display moments after the museum's presentation 
today when a diplomat from Croatia, Mate Maras, objected to the 
assertion by museum officials that more than 300,000 Serbs had died at 
the hands of the Ustasha throughout Croatia in World War II. 
Mr. Maras complained to Ms. Bloomfield and Mr. Black that the number was 
misleading because it included what he said were combatants throughout 
Croatia and thus was comparable to the hundreds of thousands of Croats 
killed in the war. 
Mr. Maras said that while he thought the assertions of the museum's 
personnel about Serb casualties were misleading, he agreed it was "a 
good day for Croatia to open up these sad pages of our history." 
Copies of the collection have been made and will be maintained at the 
Holocaust Museum and in Israel, officials said. The original collection 
will be returned to a museum in Croatia, where it will be put on display 
at the site of the Jasenovic complex, officials said. 
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