(JTA) — In an unusual plea, the World Jewish Congress urged international bodies to oppose what it calls “brazen attempts” to whitewash Holocaust crimes in the European Union’s newest member, Croatia.
The call came in a 4,000-word position paper published Monday in Tablet magazine by Menachem Rosensaft, the WJC’s general counsel.
The article, titled “Croatia is Brazenly Attempting to Rewrite its Holocaust Crimes Out of History,” examines dithering and mixed messages by the Balkan country’s highest elected officials on the Ustasha, a fascist movement led by Ante Pavelić that murdered hundreds of thousands of Serbs and tens of thousands of Jews during World War II. Reviled by many Croatians for their war crimes, Ustasha criminals are celebrated as heroes by many others — often with a nod from the government.
Last year, Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic posed during a trip to Canada with an Ustasha flag. The previous year in Israel she expressed her “deepest regrets” to victims “killed at the hands of the collaborationist Ustasha regime.” Prime Minister Tihomir Oreskovic also condemned the Ustasha publicly, but did nothing when soccer fans chanted the Ustasha slogan during a match that he attended against an Israeli team.
These events and others prompted the local Jewish community to boycott government-sponsored Holocaust commemoration events for two consecutive years since 2016.