“The setting in Jasenovac is one of the worst exhibitions I’ve ever seen. This is a true example of blurring the history of the Holocaust and Croatia is not the only country to do it,” said Dr. Laurence Weinbaum, President of the World Jewish Congress, after visiting the memorial site of the infamous Ustasha Jasenovac camp. He was shocked that the way of showing the people the Ustasha tortured and killed in one of the most horrible concentration camps in Europe during the Second World War was shown in this way.
According to him, the setting was also technically badly set up and wrongly conceived, and he added that he had to kneel to see some parts of the collection.
Dr. Weinbaum is a long-time diplomat, he dealt with the suffering of the Jews, taught about the history of the Holocaust, and is one of the best connoisseurs of the events in the camps opened by the Nazis and their sympathizers, such as the quisling regime of the infamous Ante Pavelic. Weinbaum is also the chief director of the Israeli Foreign Relations Council, and after a review of the exhibition he made a series of criticism. During his visit, otherwise, there were no Croatian officials accompanying him.
“Society in Croatia today is not healthy, and unconvincingly sound claims that today’s Croatia is not a follower of NDH. The celebration of the criminals is entering into Croatian society,” stated Weinbaum, claiming that Jasenovac exhibition does not speak about what was happening there. The Croatian authorities should support the establishment of a mixed committee, including scientists from the world and Croatia, in order to provide answers to Holocaust issues in Croatia. According to him, the problem is in historians, because it comes “from the top”. It is not about ignorance, but about negation and blurring, and a mature society is needed that will not shift responsibility on others and accuse them, but will take responsibility.
Dr. Weinbaum is also very sharp when it comes to the number of victims of Jasenovac, especially regarding the official list with which Croatian politicians most often go public. He claims that in Croatia during the Ustasha regime 30,000 Jews were killed and that this was a real reality:
“Many crazy people say that it was not like that. The health of many societies, including Croatian, depends on the relationship with the Holocaust. I hope that Croatia will have the strength to face the crimes of the NDH and will oppose those who glorify it.”
Academician Vasilije Krestic says that Dr. Weinbaum’s reaction is not surprising, since Croats have been trying for years to cover and diminish the crimes against the Serbs and Jews.
“Officials want things to look the way the Ustashas presented them, that they were labor camps, not death camps,” comments Krestic.
“They are very persistent in denying their own crimes and this is only a proof that they do not want to face the truth. Their policies correspond to Josip Broz’s policy, when everything was buried and silenced, and the number of those killed reduced and covered.”
He adds that the exhibition about Jasenovac in the United Nations building has the real truth come to the fore and the whole world can see it these days.
“Those who committed the crimes are hurt by the truth and that is why their reaction to the exhibition in New York is so terrible,” concluded Krestic.