Jews and Serbs boycott Croatia's remembrance of death camp victims

By REUTERS
April 22, 2016 17:23
1 minute read.

 
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Croatia held a memorial ceremony on Friday for tens of thousands of people who died at the World War Two Jasenovac concentration camp, but it was boycotted by Jewish and Serb groups unhappy at official handling of recent neo-Nazi incidents.

Jasenovac, 70 km (45 miles) east of the capital Zagreb, is notorious for mass killings of Jews, Serbs, gypsies and anti-fascist Croats under the Ustashe government, which ruled the Nazi-puppet Independent State of Croatia from 1941 to 1945.

Prime Minister Tihomir Oreskovic led a silent column of officials who laid wreaths at the memorial to the victims on the 71st anniversary of a mass break-out from the camp at the end of the war.

In an hour-long ceremony accompanied by solemn music, Catholic, Orthodox and Muslim prayers were recited and actors read from the letters of inmates of the death camp, dubbed the "Auschwitz of the Balkans."

Members of Croatia's small Jewish community, the Serb minority and an anti-fascist group boycotted the annual ceremony in protest at what they say is the authorities' feeble reaction to recent events that they say "downplay and revitalize" the World War Two Ustashe government.

These include the shouting of the Ustashe greeting at a recent street protest in Zagreb and Ustashe chants by some home fans at a Croatia-Israel soccer match in March.

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