Croatian leader at Jasenovac: Evil should not be forgotten

JASENOVAC -- A commemoration marking the 69th anniversary of the breakout of prisoners of the Ustasha death camp Jasenovac was held on Sunday.

(Beta/Hina)
(Beta/Hina)

Attending the event, Croatian President Ivo Josipović said genocide had occurred at that location and that it should never be forgotten.

Josipović called on everyone to protect the memory of the people who had died in that camp, a place that would remain in collective memory forever, the Croatian electronic media reported.

"Evil should be called by its real name, opposed and denied any opportunity to happen ever again," he stated.

Evil is not gone, "it is there, lurking, and we must take care that it does not come back and happen again," the Croatian president noted.

"These crimes did not happen in the people's name, but in the name of a country that never has and never will exist. That country had regulations that it overzealously started implementing before the Third Reich and there is no excuse for that," Prime Minister Zoran Milanović stressed.

"I will never understand how there was burning and killing in Croatia even before Germany's invasion of Russia," he underscored, according to HRT, adding that Jasenovac had been the site of extermination of minorities the likes of which Europe had not seen.

The killers are long dead, but those who spread sympathy for them today arouse evil in people, Milanović emphasized, adding that modern Croatia guaranteed that such an evil would not be repeated.

Jasenovac was the largest concentration camp in the Independent State of Croatia (NDH) ruled by Ante Pavelić and his Ustasha regime. Men, women and children were systematically murdered in the camp between August 1941 and April 22, 1945, because of their religion, nationality or ideology.

The breakout included 600 prisoners, but only around 100 survived. The ones who did not attempt to break out were killed and burned.

According to professor Srboljub Živanović, the Commission for the Truth about Jasenovac, as an independent body, determined in 2008 that more than 700,000 Serbs, 23,000 Jews and around 80,000 Roma died in Jasenovac.

Citing incomplete data, the commission said that 42,791 Serb, 5,737 Roma and 3,710 Jewish children aged under 15 died in camps for children throughout the Independent State of Croatia.

Croatian sources put the figure at over 83,000 victims killed in some ten locations within the camp, of which more than 20,000 were women and 20,101 children under the age of 15. They Serbs, Roma, Jews, Croats, and antifascists.

Croatian Parliament Speaker Josip Leko, officials of the diplomatic corps, religious communities, national minorities and antifascist organizations and guests from other parts of Croatia and abroad attended the commemoration together with former prisoners.