Original chains and manacles worn by inmates of World War II Jasenovac concentration camp displayed at Jasenovac, Croatia, in 2001..
The Simon Wiesenthal Center on Tuesday urged the Zagreb City Council to reject a proposal to honor Croatian film director Jakov Sedlar, accusing him of distorting the history of WWII and the Holocaust.
Sedlar’s 2016 film about the Jasenovac concentration camp, Jasenovac – The Truth, sparked uproar among Croatian Jews.
They accused the filmmaker of downplaying atrocities perpetrated by Ustasa fascists in the former Independent State of Croatia, or NDH, Nezavisna Država Hrvatska, the Croatian puppet-state of Nazi Germany and Italy during World War II.
In a letter to Zagreb city council president Andrija Mikulic, Wiesenthal Center Nazi-hunter Dr. Efraim Zuroff said the film “outrageously seeks to rewrite the history of the Independent State of Croatia and deny the scope of the horrific crimes committed at the Jasenovac concentration camp. His attempt to minimize the number of innocent Serbs, Jews, Roma and anti-fascist Croatians murdered by the Ustasha at Jasenovac is an insult to the victims and a basis for harsh criticism, not awards of any kind, from the Zagreb municipality.”
The City Assembly of Zagreb is due to discuss the proposal on Wednesday, according to Anti-Fascist League president Zoran Pusic. The NGO filed a criminal complaint last summer with the state attorney’s office, accusing Sedlar of “public incitement to violence and hatred.” On Tuesday it expressed strong opposition to the proposed honor in an open letter to the city of Zagreb.
The Committee for Public Recognitions and Honors, in attempting to justify the honor, said that 10 of Sedlar’s movies can be found at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Center.
In a clarification to Zuroff, Yad Vashem’s libraries director Dr Robert Rozett said the library seeks to gather all materials related to the Holocaust.
“The fact that an item is in the collection is in no way an endorsement of its content, but only reflects that it is about our subject of interest,” said Rozett, and noted that the library collection contains more than 161,000 printed items and some 7000 films, including Holocaust-denial items.
“We urge you to unequivocally reject any proposal to honor Sedlar, whose work belongs in the dustbin of Croatian history and is not worthy of any approval or recognition,” Zuroff said in his letter.
Sedlar also co-directed the 2014 documentary-drama Anne Frank: Then and Now. That film – based on the famous Holocaust victim and diarist – was shot in Gaza, Ramallah and Jaffa and screened in Iran last summer. While lauded for being a rare Arabic exploration of Holocaust themes, the film also garnered criticism for its unfavorable take on Israel’s actions during Operation Protective Edge in 2014 against Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
Jpost.com staff contributed to this report.
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