Fascist slogans find their place in Croatian school books

Croatia's index.hr website writes that a book included in the elementary school curriculum in Croatia promotes Ustashism.

Source: index.hr
(Getty Images, file, illustration puposes)
(Getty Images, file, illustration puposes)

The literature in question contains sentences such as, "We're ready, poglavnik."

"Poglavnik" ("chief") was the title of Ante Pavelic, the head of the Ustasha regime of the Nazi-allied Independent State of Croatia (NDH). This entity, in existence from 1941 until 1945, operated extermination camps for Serbs, Jews, and Roma, including Jasenovac.

In the report, the website quotes from the book that is required reading for Croatian sixth graders:

"She trembled with internal excitement when she heard Bobo or Jure shout: We are ready, poglavnik!"

This sentence comes from a novel written by Stjepan Tomas, entitled, "My daddy sleeps with angels - a small war diary."

According to index.hr, this book, first published in 1992, portrays Ustashism "not only as something completely ordinary and acceptable, but also as an expression of Croatian patriotism."

The website said that the book references in several places a poem about Ustasha executioners Jure Francetic and Rafael Boban, who "call out and cry" to their poglavnik, as well as the Ustasha greeting, "For home - ready."

The book takes the form of "the diary of fictitious ten-year-old Osijek girl Cvjeta Matkovic, from the war years of 1991 and 1992 - which would not be controversial if the writer was not sending political messages that were controversial even during the wartime 1990s, let alone in 2016," the article said.

The Ustasha greeting surfaces when the girl describes boys from her class "thumping their small Croatian chests" by writing Ustasha slogans, as they described their fate as refugees.

"All the boys wrote at the beginning of their essays: 'CROATIA' and, 'FOR HOME READY!' At the bottom of the page, in even bigger letters: 'ALWAYS FOR HOME READY!'," the novel reads.

Stjepan Tamas uses his main character "to spread prejudice against Serbs as the exclusive truth about what happened during the 1990s," according to the website, which also said they sent a query to the Croatian Ministry of Education about the criteria they used while selecting the book as part of required sixth grade reading.

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