Commemoration held for victims of WWII Ustasha conc. camp

26.06.2011 u 20:06


A commemoration for the victims of the Ustasha World War Two concentration camp Jadovno was held at Jadovno near the central Croatian town of Gospic on Sunday.

Attending the event were Serbian President Boris Tadic, the Croatian President's envoy Vesna Pusic, the Prime Minister's envoy, Culture Minister Jasen Mesic, Deputy Prime Minister Slobodan Uzelac, MP and Serb National Council (SNV) president Milorad Pupovac, and representatives of the Alliance of Anti-fascist Fighters and Anti-fascists of Croatia (SABA) and of religious communities.

The commemoration was organised by the SNV in cooperation with SABA, the Serb Orthodox Church diocese of Karlovac, the association "Jadovno 1941", and the coordinating body of Jewish communities in Croatia.

By one of 32 pits at Jadovno containing the victims' remains, Mesic and Pupovac unveiled a repaired monument made by sculptor Ratko Petric.

Speaking at the commemoration, President Tadic said he came to Jadovno both as President of Serbia and as a grandson of Strahinja Kicanovic and his brother Dusan, who were killed at Jadovno. They and all the other victims were killed only because they had their own identity, their name, religion and beliefs, said Tadic.

Speaking of the horrors of the Ustasha regime in the Nazi-styled Independent State of Croatia (NDH), Tadic said that in the recent history similar horrors and suffering had occurred. He added that as Serbia's president he was aware of all the suffering of the Serb and Croat peoples and that his visit to Jadovno was not aimed at renewing fears, but at helping to put an end to them once and for all.

He called for remembrance through life in peace and mutual tolerance.

Thanking the Croatian government and individuals for enabling the renovation of the monument at Jadovno, Tadic said that all should be working to make Europe's southeast a home of peace for all people, identities and religions.

President Josipovic's envoy Vesna Pusic said in her address that the Jadovno complex was not only a concentration camp but a place of execution.

She stressed that the Republic of Croatia was not a successor to the Ustasha regime, but was founded on the anti-fascist resistance to Nazism, fascism and the NDH. It was the horrors of the NDH that caused the people of Lika to rise against that regime, Pusic said.

Addressing Tadic, Pusic said that President Josipovic and all those present at the commemoration appreciated very much his attendance of the event and considered it a sign of the strength and will to build together a civilised and humanitarian European future.

Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor's envoy at the event, Culture Minister Jasen Mesic, recalled that the Croatian government recently decided to adopt the European Union resolution on observing the European Day of Remembrance for Victims of Stalinism and Nazism on August 23.

He recalled that anti-fascism and support for democracy and protection of human rights and the rights of the ethnic minorities were incorporated in Croatia's constitution.

Speaking on behalf of SABA, its president Ratko Maricic said that the executions of Serbs, Jews, Roma people and opponents of the Ustasha regime had been carried out in line with a previously made plan.

Reading out a message by SABA honorary president and former Croatian president Stjepan Mesic, Maricic said that the NDH was founded on crime, both as a political concept and in practice, and that that fact could not be changed by any subsequent reinterpretation.

Speaking on behalf of the Jewish community in Croatia, Ognjen Kraus commended the fact that the monument at Jadovno had been repaired, and called for repairing also several thousand monuments to victims of fascism that had been destroyed over the last 20 years.

SNV president Pupovac recalled that the monument at Jadovno, too, was destroyed 20 years ago, however, it did not efface the memory of the victims or efforts to come to terms with a policy which he said did not believe in coexistence.

Pupovac also noted that the role of anti-fascist Partisans who rose against the political concept of the NDH was not valued adequately today.

More than a thousand people attended today's commemoration at Jadovno. Memorial services and prayers for the victims were conducted by the head of the Serb Orthodox diocese of Karlovac, Gerasim, and Luciano Mose Prelevic, rabbi of the Jewish Community Zagreb.