extreme right-wing NGO The Croatian Cultural Movement (HUP)
has announced plans to erect a monument in honor of former
Croatian president Ante Pavelic in Zagreb, Croatia, this
HUP president Tomislav Dragun has been quoted as saying that the monument will
stand adjacent to the capital's central square.
Pavelic, the president of Croatia
during World War II, was known for his state-organized
terror campaign against Jews, Serbs, Gypsies and anti-fascist
Croats. He was installed as the president of the Independent
State of Croatia (NDH) in 1941, a puppet state of the Nazi
regime which included Bosnia and part of Dalmatia.
Efraim Zuroff, the Israel director
of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, slammed the proposed monument,
saying it "constitutes an outrageous falsification of Croatia's World War II history and
is an insult not only to the memory of the hundreds of
thousands of innocent civilians - Serbs, Jews, Roma and
anti-fascist Croatians - murdered by the Ustashe, but to
any person with any sense of moral integrity and knowledge
of the history of Croatia during the years 1941-1945. I
am certain that saner minds in Zagreb will prevail to halt
this infuriating initiative."
Between 1941 and 1945, the fascist
Ustashe regime was notorious for its policies of oppression,
persecution and murderous brutality, specifically directed
against Orthodox Serbs and Jews. The regime established
numerous concentration camps, including the Jasenovac complex,
the largest of the Croatian camps, which is estimated to
have killed between 8,000 and 25,000 of the approximately
40,000 Croatian Jews that perished during World War II.
Throughout the war, figures estimate that the Ustashe regime
murdered close to 700,000 people.
In relation to Croatia's size,
Pavelic's regime is estimated to have been the most murderous
of the Axis-aligned countries.
According to Zuroff, the HUP "does
not represent the mainstream Croatian opinion, but a small
and vocal minority."
He went on to say that the decision
to erect the monument reflected "historical revisionism of the worst sort imaginable and a whitewash of the horrific
crimes committed by the NDH-Independent State of Croatia
as state policy. It is simply inconceivable that a country
on the verge of entry to the European Union would allow
such a monument to be erected in its capital city or anywhere
else on its territory."