The Simon Wiesenthal Centre, a prominent Jewish human-rights organisation, accused Croatian MEP Ruza Tomasic of trying to whitewash crimes committed in WWII by the fascist Ustasa movement.
Holocaust historian Efraim Zuroff from the Jerusalem-based Simon Wiesenthal Centre called upon Croatian political leaders on Wednesday to reject MEP Ruza Tomasic’s recent statements of sympathy for the Ustasa movement.
Zuroff alleged that Tomasic was attempting to whitewash the large-scale atrocities committed by the Ustasa and the WWII-era Independent State of Croatia, the NDH.
“Ruza Tomasic is considered by many Croatians to be an excellent MEP with impressive achievements in her previous terms on behalf of Croatia. It might have been possible to overlook her activities on behalf of Croatian extremists, if she had sincerely renounced fascism and the genodical policies of the NDH,” Zuroff said.
“Since that is not the case, however, and she still expresses support for a movement which should be universally condemned, we urge Croatian leaders to unequivocally distance themselves from the dangerous and repulsive views of MEP Ruza Tomasic,” he added.
On Friday, Novosti, a weekly newspaper for the Croatian Serb ethnic minority, revealed that Tomasic had published poems glorifying Ustasa and NDH leader Ante Pavelic, and had been photographed wearing an Ustasa uniform while living in Canada in the 1970s and 1980s.
Asked to comment, Tomasic said that she still sympathises with the Ustasa movement, but differentiated between what she called “regular Ustasa” and those who committed crimes after 1941, when they came to power in Croatia.
“The Ustasa movement is one thing, and the NDH is another… Many crimes were committed during WWII. During those four years, the NDH separated itself from what the Ustasa movement represented,” Tomasic told Novosti.
She said that anyone who committed crimes should be condemned, but added that she doesn’t denounce “the regular Ustasa who fought for their homeland”.
Tomasic confirmed those statements to other local media. On Friday, she also told right-wing website Direktno that the photo of her wearing Ustasa uniform published in Novostiwas genuine.
At the recent European Parliament elections, Tomasic’s newly-formed Croatian Sovereignist coalition won 8.52 per cent of the votes, giving her another mandate. In 2013, she was a candidate of the now-governing Croatian Democratic Union, HDZ.
Under the rule of the NDH, a WWII fascist puppet state of Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy, over 30,000 of around 40,000 Jews who were living on the its territory were killed.
At the Jasenovac concentration camp, the Ustasa murdered 13,116 Jews, along with 47,627 Serbs, 16,173 Roma and 6,229 victims from other nationalities, according to a confirmed list of victims’ names.