Skip To Content
Breaking News

Nazi Hunter Ephraim Zuroff Chides Israel for Silence on Croatia Holocaust Distortion

(JTA) — A leader of the Simon Wiesenthal Center accused Israel of “abdicating its duty” to Holocaust survivors following Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s failure to mention the genocide in a statement about Croatia.

The allegation Tuesday by Efraim Zuroff, a well-known Holocaust researcher, hunter of Nazis and head of the Center’s Eastern Europe operations, came during the state visit to Israel by Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic and amid a conflict between his government and Croatia’s Jewish community.

Citing the Croatian government’s “failure” to address publicly the role of the pro-Nazi members of the Ustasha Fascist movement in the murder of Croatian Jews during the Holocaust, the leadership of the country’s main Jewish group said it would skip a state memorial ceremony in Parliament planned for Jan. 27, International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

“The problem is that the government relativizes everything that has to do with the Holocaust,” Ognjen Kraus, president of the Co-ordinating Committee of the Jewish Communities of Croatia, told Reuters Monday. His organization boycotted last year’s state event for similar reasons.

Croatian President Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic was photographed in November holding a flag of Croatia’s  Fascist puppet regime during World War II. That month, World War II veterans engraved a Ustasha slogan on a commemorative plaque installed in the town of Jasenovac. Authorities ignored the Jewish community’s pleas to have the plaque removed.

Last week, a Croatian principal shut down an exhibition about the Holocaust that the Anne Frank House of Amsterdam helped put up in his high school. He told local media that he objected to its presentation of Ustasha militiamen as killers. Zuroff on Monday wrote to the Croatian embassy in Israel demanding the principal be fired.

Ustasha men are responsible for killing the majority of the 30,000 Croatian Jews murdered in the Holocaust, according to Yad Vashem. Only a fifth of the country’s pre-Holocaust Jewish community survived the genocide.

However, Netanyahu’s statement to media about his meeting with Plenkovic made no direct or indirect reference to these controversies. Instead, he thanked Croatia for helping Israel fight forest fires last fall; praised Croatia – which is a member of the European Union — for supporting Israel in international forums and called on it to continue to help Israel fight “militant Islamic terrorism.”

Zuroff said that while he appreciates Israel’s need to preserve and nurture its friendly ties to Eastern European nations, the Jewish state nonetheless “currently has enough leverage to find ways to express its concern over Holocaust revisionism and abuse of Holocaust memory without necessarily harming bilateral ties.”

He added that Israel “seems more eager to present itself to receive various compensations for Holocaust-related abuses than it is willing to stand up for the memory of the victims and assume the obligations connected with being the Jewish state.”





Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.