June 10, 2015
As the author of six books on Balkan history I am most proud of my monograph: Jasenovac Then & Now: A Conspiracy of Silence.
As the victim of double Balkan genocide it is important that these war crimes are never forgotten. In 1942, in the village of Vojnic, Croatia where my father was born 97 Serbs were gathered in their church believing they could convert to Catholicism to save their lives…the doors were locked from the outside and the church was burned to the ground—17 of those victims were my relatives.
In 1995 during “Operation Storm” when 230,000 Serbs were cleansed from Croatia, the last five relatives of my name were too old and too sick to flee…I was notified a month later by the Red Cross that they were found with their throats slit.
In 1997 I was invited to participate and speak at the First International Conference and Exhibition on the Jasenovac Concentration Camp at Kingsborough College in New York.
I immediately accepted the invitation and within days wrote my speech and as requested sent a copy to Dr. Kline whose department sponsored the event. Within 2 days I received a telephone call uninviting me to participate…when I asked the reason I was told that a Croatian professor at the college said she would refuse to participate if I spoke. I was outraged that the host of the conference shared my speech without consideration to my privacy and that Croatian Nazis murdered all of my family and she was more interested in politics than the alleged scholarly investigation.
Since I volunteered to assist in raising money to finance the $7,000 required to bring several Jasenovac survivors to New York to participate, my major donor said he would withhold his contribution if I were removed from the panel of speakers.
My invitation was again extended however I had suspicions that this was going to be a political set up, so I went back over my speech which contained 29 footnotes for reference and confirmation of my words before this important presentation. I printed that monograph of 65 pages that included 22 first-person witness statement in 1945 including, three Ustasha Catholic priests, German military officials, several survivors, a number of Croatian officials and a statement by Senator Herbert Lehman of New York. This monograph now in its 3rd edition has been made available over the Internet for an inexpensive download on all of the major tablets.
At the conclusion of my presentation, Dr. Kline, a Jew, came to the microphone to “distance himself and the college from my presentation”…by that time my monograph was being distributed among the audience…Here is my speech, you be the judge about its content.
The American lexicon of the 1940s included such repugnant words as “Japs, Kikes and Pollocks.” I remember those days—my father was an immigrant coal miner, and I was automatically addressed by the bigoted word—“Hunky.” Today, in more subtle ways, name calling still haunts modern society. In the contemporary context it has been easy for Americans to deny knowledge of the Holocaust as though Auschwitz and Jasenovac were a mere anomaly of history—but they are naive, millions have been killed since Nuremberg. Today, it is politically incorrect to attack blacks, Asians, Arabs and homosexuals, but perfectly acceptable to attack a Serb—a name that has become synonymous with evil. Terminology that demonizes Serbs with collective guilt thrives. Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleberger said “Serbs are not too smart,” and Richard Holbrooke unashamedly called Serbs “murderous assholes.”1 Morton Kondracke called Serbs “Bastards”2 on national television, while Senator Biden used CNN to inform the world that Serbs were “illiterates and degenerates.”3 The Serbians have been denied food and medicine for the past five years in a process known as “negative earmarking.”4 This can only be described as—GENOCIDE by SANCTIONS.5 This conference will surely expose one important reality—that Jasenovac was not a symptom, but the full-blown disease of manifest hatred.
In this century, in which the word genocide was coined in 1944, the following chilling words were spoken in testimony by Antun Miletich, a Croatian writer: “…There is not a pen capable of describing the horror and terror of the atmosphere at Jasenovac. It surpasses any human fantasy. Imagine Hell, the Inquisition, a terror more dreadful than any that ever before existed anywhere, run by bloodthirsty wild animals whose most hidden and disgusting instincts had come to the surface in a way never before seen in human beings—and still you have not said enough.”6 Jasenovac screamed out at the world and nobody heard that Serbs were the victims of “the greatest genocide, in proportion to a nation’s population,”7 in WWII, as Jasenovac became the “Yugoslav Dachau.”8
Today, journalists conceal the fact that Serbia lost half of her adult male population in WWI—their losses 23 years later at Jasenovac would pain the Serb psyche for the remainder of this century—a century that witnessed the slaughter of more than 170 million victims, beginning with the first genocide in 1907, when the Germans liquidated 120,000 Tanzanians—followed in 1922 by the first Holocaust in Asia Minor, where Turkey massacred 3.5 million Armenians and Greeks. In my generation when “never again” was repeated like a mantra, 30 million Chinese and Russians were liquidated in the 1950s and 1960s with impunity, followed by 1.7 million Cambodians in the 1970s, and 2 million Sudanese and Ethiopians in the 1980s. Since Nuremberg, war criminals, dictators and genocidal maniacs have murdered hundreds of thousands of the “politically incorrect,” while remaining political untouchables.
But in 1990s Bosnia, the moral line in the sand has been drawn to prosecute “Serbian war criminals”9 for killing an alleged “200,000 Bosnian Muslims,”10 the single largest deception of this war. Serbians are accused of killing “7,079 Srebrenica Muslims,”according to Pulitzer prize awardee David Rohde.11 Four thousand of these alleged victims were seen and recorded in Tuzla by John Pomfret of The Washington Post on July 18, 1995.12 This is deceit for a political agenda. Jasenovac is Croatia’s deceit of history and her conspiracy of silence.13
Many of the criminals who perpetrated these war crimes in Jasenovac have returned from exile. One such war criminal is Dinko Sakic, one of the men who ran Jasenovac. He is now the security advisor to Croatian President Tudjman. Sakic proclaimed in a Zagreb magazine: “If I were offered the same duty today, I would accept it.”14 Why is Sakic not being dragged off to The Hague? Equally repugnant is the fact Germany’s “Neo-Nazis Help Croatians in Bosnia”15 during this current war.
Tito and Croatian apologists, aided by the Vatican, buried their crimes at Jasenovac along with their victims. “It now appears that a vast international conspiracy involving Marshal Josip Broz Tito, founder of modern Yugoslavia, his ruling Yugoslav League of Communists, the United Nations, some Vatican officials, and even Jewish organizations strove to keep the Jasenovac story buried forever.”… ” The silence of Jewish organizations is less easily explained, particularly since Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal was aware of the slaughter,”16 mocking his own words, “Hope lives when people remember.”17 Professor John Ranz, chairperson in the U.S. of the Survivors of Buchenwald, even finds reason to discredit the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles as “an insult to the memory of the Holocaust.”18 The only reference to ‘Jasenovac’ at the Museum of Tolerance is a wall map showing the concentration camps of World War II. In spite of the fact that thousands of Jews were exterminated at Jasenovac, the tour guides at the Museum of Tolerance intolerably never mention its name.
In July of 1994, Dr. Milan Bulajic, recognized as an expert on genocide by the United Nations, visited Washington, meeting with officials of the National Holocaust Memorial Museum, to bring justice to the victims of Jasenovac and to find out why this tax-supported American institution would omit the Yugoslav Jews and Serbians who died there? He did not get a clear cut answer as to why the third most lethal camp in WWII, nicknamed by historians as “The Auschwitz of the Balkans,” is conspicuously missing at this museum?
In my book, The Serbian Genocide—1941-45, published on the 50th anniversary of WWII, co-authored by the late David Martin, who was Jewish and the author of the 1990 book, The Web of Disinformation, and an expert on the Balkans, wrote: “Initial reports claimed that 150,000 Serbs had been massacred; while arriving reports claimed 600,000 were killed. All reports were replete with details of such psychopathic fiendishness that on first reading they seemed almost absurd. The facts of the massacres would indeed be incredible if they had not been authenticated from so many different sources, including photographic evidence by Ustashi themselves, as such evidence was one sure way of receiving Pavelic’s approval and elevation to higher rank within the Ustasha militia.” … ”Numerous reports of entire Serbian communities being locked in their churches and burned alive and reports that the Ustashi were adorning themselves with necklaces made of Serbian eyes were so horrible that one simply cannot blame the civilized western world for initially disbelieving them.” …
“Today no one denies that the massacres take place. It is of interest to note that in ‘The Yugoslav Peoples Fight to Live,’ Tito stated: ‘During three months of 1941, with the aid of the Ustashi, the Nazis succeeded in exterminating more than half a million Serbs in Croatia, Bosnia, Herzegovina and Vojvodina.’”19 If we are to believe today’s revisionists, such a statement would imply that no Serbs were killed after 1941.
If there is any value in Simon Wiesenthal’s words that ‘hope lives when people remember,’ then Serbs will surely find it hopeless that their bravery in saving the lives of thousands of Jews during the war in Yugoslavia has been easily erased from history. Serbs also find hopeless a new attempt to tell the story of World War II in the Balkans entitled Serbia’s Secret War—Propaganda and the Deceit of History by Philip Cohen. Jasenovac only appears twice in this book—on pages 91 and 125—less than 90 words were used to describe Jasenovac, where, according to most scholars, more than a half million Serbs were exterminated.20
Asserting that he has discovered a “Secret War” of the Serbs, Philip Cohen is unburdened with credentials in Balkan Studies and cannot speak in the Serbo-Croatian language, nor read the Cyrillic alphabet, which would have been necessary to comb through the thousands of documents to make this alleged secret discovery—apparently, Mr. Cohen relied on others to do his so-called “meticulous and excruciatingly well-documented study,”21 according to Stjepan G. Mestrovic, a Croatian at Texas A&M University. No respectable Croatian would dare to author such a book.
In his foreword to the same book, Jewish Professor David Riesman, Emeritus of Social Sciences at Harvard, also found it obligatory to use racism by saying: “… The account makes clear, there is an important cultural difference between Serbia and Croatia; it is in Serbia that illiterates could rise to leadership and even to the monarchy…”22 This remark was obviously meant to be as insulting as possible to the Serbian nation. Today, the Serbs do a dance without musical accompaniment, it is called the “silent kolo,”—invented in the 18th century because Serbs were denied the right to an education and musical instruments by their Ottoman oppressors. Riesman’s kind of hateful attack on Serbians was what made Jasenovac a reality.23
Conspicuously missing from this book is any mention of Ante Starcevic (1823-1896), who contributed to two World Wars and is considered the Croatian “father of hate.”24 Missing, too, is any mention of Andrija Artukovic,the minister of the Interior of the First Independent State of Croatia in 1941.25 In 1985, the U.S. Justice Department introduced evidence at Artukovic’s Los Angeles extradition trial, signed by Artukovic—Artukovic’s son claimed his father’s signature were “authentic.”These documents directed punitive measures against Serbs, Jews and Roma whom he sent to Jasenovac. In 1941, Fr. Ivan Raguz yelled from a Croatian Roman Catholic pulpit: “Kill all Serbs and Jews, including children, so that not even the seeds of the beasts are left.”26 Therein lies the foundation, the pretext and the horror of Jasenovac.
There are more than 12 million Serbs today in the world, and there is scarcely a family that did not lose a close member or a relative during the Holocaust—a great many of whom died at Jasenovac. This author lost 17 members of his family during the war—they were burned to death in the Serbian Orthodox church in the village of Vojnic for refusing to convert to Roman Catholicism. Today’s ‘talking heads’ in the partisan media tell me that this is “ancient history,” in spite of the fact that it happened to my family in my lifetime—there is no statute of limitations on murder, meanwhile irresponsible legal minds pursue an arbitrary mandate of only prosecuting war criminals after 1990 and only in former Yugoslavia. Entering the 21st Century practicing such selective justice only insures that we will repeat the mistakes of this century.
The United States is the world’s beacon for freedom, then why in God’s name would we deny free speech to the Serbian people?27 In 1942, during WWII, the Legion of Merit Award, the United States’ highest honor to a foreign citizen, was given to General Draza Mihailovich by an act of Congress. Was it in the name of “freedom” that the U.S. State Department kept that award secret for more than 20 years?—insulting Serbian allies who saved over 500 American airmen downed over occupied Yugoslav territory at great personal sacrifice? Erasing these facts from the records,28 and obliterating Jasenovac from historic research, has been accomplished by influential Croatians, the Vatican and their patrons. These were not ordinary perpetrators—they included hundreds of Roman Catholic priests who killed Serbs and Jews with their own hands, then fled into exile with false passports generated by Fr. Krunoslav Draganovic—a Croatian priest—who operated the infamous “Ratline” from inside the Vatican.29
In 1991, President Tudjman was quoted in the Jerusalem Post as saying, “I am a doubly lucky man, my wife is neither Serbian nor Jewish.”30 This is the same Croatian president whose army destroyed Jasenovac Concentration Camp and its Museum and who claims that only “20,000 Serbs died at Jasenovac.” One only need see the repulsive photographs taken by Croatian perpetrators at Jasenovac to know that even 5,000 dead Serbs accomplished in this sadistic manner represents the worst crimes against humanity in the 20th century. I know many Croatians who are good and decent people. Why have Croatians refused to speak out against this genocide and apologize for its brutality?
In 1991, His Holiness Pavle, Patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church, led the first anti-war demonstration of million Serbs through the streets of Belgrade. His effort has been repeated a number of times since. Why has every overture of the Serbian Orthodox Church been rebuffed by the Croatians and, equally important, why is there a worldwide effort today to discredit Eastern Orthodoxy, the religion of 280 million Christian people?
In 1991, His Holiness Pavle invited the Pope of Rome to Jasenovac to serve a joint liturgy on the 50th anniversary of World War II. Pope John Paul II refused, saying, “It is too dangerous to come to the Balkans at this time.” Then, two years later, at the height of the Bosnian Civil War, the Pope went to Zagreb—where his first official duty was to lay a wreath on the tomb of convicted war criminal, Archbishop Stepinac. Americans fought and died to destroy fascism and death camps like Jasenovac, then turned and looked away as the Roman Catholic Diocese in White Plains, New York named one of their schools, Archbishop Stepinac High School in the 1950s.
Absent from Cohen’s Serbia’s Secret War is Fr. Miroslav Filipovic Majstorovic, a Franciscan friar, who was nicknamed “Friar Satan”—by one of the guards at Jasenovac, and for good reason. On February 7, 1942 the Ustashi, under his leadership, massacred 2,300 Serbian adults and 551 children in the village of Drakulic.31 (recounted on the following pages). The children in the village were selected as the first victims—their noses, ears and genitals were cut off—body parts that allowed the victims to remain alive through rapes and tortures. The most grotesque crime of all was the decapitation of these children—their heads thrown into the laps of their mothers, who, in shocked horror, were then murdered.32
Hearing about these bloody massacres, Ante Pavelic was so pleased that he made Fr. Filipovic the commandant of Jasenovac for four months. Filipovic admitted to personally killing 40,000 victims at his Yugoslav trial, in direct contradiction to Tudjman’s statement that only ‘20,000 Serbs died at Jasenovac.’ Fr. Filipovic was not the only crazed Roman priest. Fr. Petar Brzica was nicknamed “King of the Killers.”33 He won that title on the night of August 29, 1942 in a contest to see who could kill the most Serbs in the shortest period of time at Jasenovac. Fr. Brzica won, putting to death 1,350 Serbs by slitting their throats.34 Do not misinterpret my outrage, all war criminals deserve to be punished—including Serbs and Muslims.
Philip Cohen refers to author Curzio Malaparte’s description of seeing a basket of gouged out Serbian eyes on the desk of Ante Pavelic in Malaparte’s book, Kaputt—as “fiction”—and refers to the book as a “novel,” an attempt to draw attention away from this unspeakably horrible practice of the Ustashi.35 Equally deceptive was the use of footnote 66, Chapter 5, in which his reference source, Michael McAdams, claims that ”Ustasha atrocities in WWII were more fiction than fact.” McAdams, it turns out, is a Croatian-Nazi apologist at a Jesuit university in California. I was in that courtroom where McAdams was a character witness for Andrija Artukovic, at his 1985 extradition trial, and where Cardinal Manning of Los Angeles referred to Artukovic as “a great, good man.”36
The words of United States Justice, Oliver Wendell Holmes seem appropriate here, “When I want to understand what is happening today or try to decide what will happen tomorrow, I look back.”
On behalf of the one million Americans of Serbian heritage, I wish to thank Dr. Kline, Professor Lituchy and Kingsborough College for having the courage to stop the falsification of Balkan history, and for being the first institution in the United States to exhibit the evidence of Jasenovac—and, above all, to finally give its victims a voice and a place in time. Official academic obfuscation would have gone on unhindered if not for the scholarly dedication of these few individuals.
The Serbian people owe them a debt of gratitude. The ancient Chinese had a wonderful saying—“a journey begins with the first step.” May this courageous step inspire others to imitate you and to share your interest in Jasenovac. Academia should be embarrassed that so many individuals have spent a lifetime preventing the crimes of Jasenovac from surfacing at institutions of higher learning. Universities across this nation should also be called to account for their record of preventing good, loyal and decent American Serbs from appearing on panel discussions and seminars related to the current Balkan crisis.
For the students at this institution, I leave you with this crucial question—why did our elected officials prevent Serbian scholars, authors, journalists and political leaders from appearing before Congress, the Senate, the Foreign Relations Committee, the Helsinki Commission and the Human Rights Caucus for the past several years? No ethnic group deserves to be singled out and muzzled in this country—the greatest experiment in a democratic society.
In closing, I would like to recall the eloquent words of William Arthur Ward:
“Each of us will one day be judged by our standard of life—not by our standard of living; by our measure of giving—not by our measure of wealth; by our simple goodness—not by our seeming greatness.”
William "Bill" Dorich
I photographed the Serbian church ruins in 1972 on a trip to Yugoslavia. In 1995 President Tudjman of Croatia bulldozed the site at the same time he destroyed the Jasenovac camp and museum. (William Dorich)
The plaque on the ruins tells about this church but apparently the Croatians do not wish to be reminded of the hideous war crimes they perpetrated 70 years ago. (William Dorich)
If you would like to get in touch with me, Aleksandra,
please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org