Croatia’s president honors victims of WWII camp
ZAGREB, Croatia (AP) — Croatia’s president visited the site of a World War II concentration camp on Friday and honored its victims, while Jewish leaders are boycotting the main commemoration ceremony for the third year in a row.
President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic said visiting the Jasenovac camp near Zagreb “evokes a feeling of deep regret over the crimes that took place here and respect for all the innocent victims.”
Croatia “unconditionally condemns crimes committed at this camp,” Grabar-Kitarovic said. “No political goal or order can justify crimes done in its name.”
The camp was run by Croatia’s pro-Nazi regime. Tens of thousands of Jews, Serbs and anti-fascist Croats were killed there.
The right-leaning authorities running Croatia now have faced criticism for their perceived lack of resolve to curb pro-Nazi sentiments in the country.
Representatives of the country’s Jewish community held their remembrance for Jasenovac’s victims at the camp on Sunday. They said they were angry the government hasn’t fully outlawed the “For the Homeland — Ready” slogan used by Croatia’s Nazi-sympathizing regime during World War II.
Far-right groups frequently employ the slogan for their gatherings. A plaque bearing the phrase also was displayed in Jasenovac by a 1990s war association before authorities last year moved it to another town nearby.
Ognjen Kraus, the coordinator of Croatia’s Jewish communities, said in Jasenovac that the notorious salute “is not acceptable for us in any form or use.”
“The Jewish community cannot agree to the revision of history,” Kraus said in comments carried by the official Hina news agency.
The main official ceremony in Jasenovac takes place this Sunday.