Historian Momcilo Diklic says that we should fight for the truth and that excavating Gradina is one of the ways to find it…”It is never too late to make a list of victims. A nameless victim is not a victim,” says the director of the Veritas Documentation Centre, Savo Strbac.
BELGRADE, February 15 /SRNA/ – The internet site of the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington says that the Ustashe murdered between 77,000 and 99,000 people in Jasenovac from 1941 to 1945, and that they murdered between 320,000 and 340,000 Serbs in the area of the present Croatia and BiH, which was a part of the Ustashe Independent State of Croatia /NDH/.
It also says that more than 30,000 Croatian Jews were killed either in the NDH or in the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp.
When it comes to the number of victims of the Jasenovac concentration camp between its establishment in 1941 and evacuation in April 1945, the Holocaust Memorial Museum says that the Croatian authorities murdered thousands of people at Jasenovac.
The internet site says that the Ustashe killed between 45,000 and 52,000 Serbs, between 12,000 and 20,000 Jews, between 15,000 and 20,000 Roma and between 5,000 and 12,000 Croats and Muslims, political and religious opponents to the Ustashe regime.
The text on the internet site of the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington says that “determining the number of victims for Yugoslavia, Croatia and Jasenovac is very problematic due to destruction of many relevant documents.”
It further says that a problem is also “a long-term inaccessibility to independent scholars of those documents that survived,” and “post-war partisan scholarship and journalism, which has been and remains influenced by ethnic tensions, religious prejudice and ideological conflict.”
Estimates in the text are based on the work of several historians who have used census records and all available documents in German, Croatian and other archives in the former Yugoslavia and elsewhere.
“As more documents become accessible and more research into the records of the Ustashe regime is conducted, historians and demographers will be able to determine more precise figures than are now available,” says the text.
Wikipedia in Serbo-Croatian took over data about the number of Jasenovac victims ranging from 77,000 and 99,000 from the internet site of the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, while the Wikipedia in Serbian says that by the year 2012, the Jasenovac Memorial determined the names of 83,000 victims, and the Belgrade Museum of Genocide the names of 88,000 victims.
The Wikipedia in Serbian says that the number of victims varies depending on the source, noting the Yugoslav state commission of 1946 said that between 500,000 and 600,000 people were killed in Jasenovac.
At the same time, the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington estimates that the Ustashe killed more than 250,000 Serbs in the period between 1941 and 1943, and that thousands of people were killed in the Jasenovac concentration camp alone.
Commenting on this text and data, the director of the Veritas Documentation Centre, Savo Strbac, told SRNA that we should seriously address the issue of a number of victims of the Jasenovac concentration camp, but also a number of victims of all wars in the 20th century in the former Yugoslavia.
He feels that making a list of victims should be a state project assisted by NGOs.
“It is never too late to make a list of victims; a nameless victim is not a victim,” Strbac said, reminding of the practice of Jews to read the names of victims of Holocaust.
He says that stories that much time has elapsed since WWII and other wars, and that there are no living witnesses, can be overcome in the present time of the internet and social networks.
“We should contact family members, while the first or the second generation of descendants are still alive, by way of the internet and social networks so that they could relate their memories,” Strbac says.
He acted as an expert in the case of Serbia’s counter-suit against Croatia before the International Court of Justice at The Hague. He says that the Court asks for names of victims and not just numbers.
Academician Vasilije Krestic told SRNA that he was not surprised by data on the internet site of the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, noting that these numbers have been used for a long time and that they are nothing new or surprising.
He feels that Serbs are not serious and responsible enough in this case, enabling Croatia and its former president Franjo Tudjman to reduce the number of Jasenovac victims to 30,000.
“If we have seriousness and responsibility like Jews, this would not be so. This is sad, but it is all our fault. Because of brotherhood and unity, we live in an illusion that we will do good to those who wish us evil,” Krestic says.
Historian Momcilo Diklic says that we should fight for the truth and that excavation of Gradina is one of the ways to find it.
“We cannot fight for the truth by passive attitude. There is no need to prove the number of victims but only to refute some theories which reduce their number,” Diklic says.
Report by Vesna SURBAT