Croatian President Stjepan Mesic Attacks Efforts to Equalize Communist and Nazi Crimes in Meeting with Wiesenthal Center’s Chief Nazi-Hunter Efraim Zuroff

Jerusalem – The Simon Wiesenthal Center’s chief Nazi–hunter, Israel director Dr. Efraim Zuroff, met here today with Croatian President Stjepan Mesic, who is participating in the President’s Conference to mark Israel’s 60th anniversary, to discuss a variety of issues concerning the manner in which Croatia is dealing with its World War II past.

In the course of their discussion, President Mesic told Zuroff that he unequivocally opposes recent efforts to equate Communist crimes with those of the Nazis. In his opinion, the crimes are simply incomparable and gave several examples from his own family, many of whom were murdered by the Ustasha Croatian fascists during World War II.

President Mesic and Zuroff also discussed the problematic new exhibition at the site of the Jasenovac Ustasha concentration camp, which both agreed, fails to educate its visitors about the roots of Ustasha ideology, the scope of the crimes committed at Jasenovac and identify the major criminals who ran the camp and bear responsibility for the mass murder of an estimated 80,000-100,000 innocent victims – Serbs, Jews, anti-fascist Croatians and Gypsies. Zuroff offered the Center’s assistance in any efforts which will be undertaken to improve the exhibition.

Both President Mesic and Zuroff expressed deep regret that former Ustasha official Ivo Rojnica who died late last year in Buenos Aires was not prosecuted in Croatia for his World War II crimes in Dubrovnik, and Zuroff updated President Mesic on the Center’s ongoing efforts in the case of Ustasha Požega police chief Milivoj Ašner, currently in Austria.

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