by Stephen Karganovic
Contemporary Croatia strikes one as a “European values” free zone. Even though Croatia has been a full-fledged member of the European Union and of NATO for several years, it has been remarkably resistant to the application, or even bare acknowledgment, of principles that – on the surface at least – constitute the ideological core of the entities it joined. Tolerance, or at a minimum refraining from grossly targeting and offending groups based on their ethnic, racial, or religious origin, is advertised as a bedrock of EU and NATO public philosophy.
But there is always the “Croatian exception.” In Croatia today there is a seemingly spontaneous, mass evocation of Ustashi values, and there is no evidence of any widespread perception of possible incompatibility with present-day “European values.” The Ustashi code that is being revived harks back to the collaborationist “Independent State of Croatia” pro-Nazi regime under Axis occupation, which lasted between 1941 and 1945. During that period, Nuremberg-style racist laws were enacted in Croatia and applied against the Serbian, Jewish, and Roma segments of the population. Those groups were exterminated in the hundreds of thousands by the Ustashi and their willing helpers in the ranks of the general population. A major killing field that functioned unhindered from the Summer of 1941 until late April 1945 was the Jasenovac concentration camp, also known as the “Auschwitz of the Balkans.” Several hundred thousand Serbs and members of other proscribed ethnic groups are estimated to have perished in it.
That is history, one might say. But it is also a vibrant aspect of “European Croatia’s” contemporary reality. The poster below is currently being circulated, massively and with impunity, in the Croatian capital of Zagreb and several provincial towns. It derisively depicts the “Serbian Family Tree” in the form of a hanging scene with presumably Serbian corpses dangling from the branches. It is significant that the poster was printed in English, which is not Croatia’s official language. One may assume that the choice of language reflects a calculated and shameless message to the outside world about Croatian racial sentiments. But at the same time, by demonstrating complete indifference to how the outside world might react to their morbid display, the Croats are perhaps also unintentionally performing a public service. They are exposing the bogus nature of EU’s politically correct tolerance cant. There actually was no consternation or even comment in Brussels or by any of Europe’s numerous political correctness watchdogs at this display of hatemongering so blatantly at odds with EU’s high-minded official values.
By their silence they clearly condone the Neanderthal primitivism of a valued member of the proud “European family”. The European institutions’ passive toleration for ethnically and racially motivated displays of potentially lethal intolerance in one of their member countries sends an unambiguous message. It is that the protective shield of their piously proclaimed “values” may be withheld at any moment from specifically designated “pariah groups.” For the present, the unlucky group may be the Serbs. But there are hordes of other “deplorables” waiting in the wings to join them outside the protective umbrella of cherished European values. Muslims, Roma, again Jews, perhaps also Greeks, and many other candidates readily come to mind.
Neo-Nazi Croatia is not a relic of the past, but a European trailblazer.
- Fascist, ultra-nationalistic Croatian movement under the leadership of Ante Pavelic. In the pre-war period and during the Axis occupation, the Ustashi enjoyed the support of Mussolini’s Italy and Hitler’s Germany. ↑