Historical News and Comment

Revisionism in Croatia: Croatia's President Rejects 'Six Million' Story

While Holocaust Revisionism is suppressed in some countries, in Croatia it has official support from the highest level. Croatian President Franjo Tudjman publicly rejects the “Six Million” Holocaust story.

In a 500-page book entitled Bespuca — Povjesne Zbiljnosti ("Wastelands — Historical Truth"), which was published in 1988, and republished in 1989 and again in 1990, Tudjman comments in some detail on Second World War history. About the familiar Holocaust story he writes:

The estimated loss of up to six million [Jewish] dead is founded too much on both emotional, biased testimonies and on exaggerated data in the postwar reckonings of war crimes and squaring of accounts with the defeated — In the mid'80s, world Jewry still has the need to recall its “holocaust” by trying to prevent the election of the former U.N. Secretary General Kurt Waldheim as president of Austria!

Tudjman, who worked for many years as a university history professor, also suggests that many wartime Jewish deaths would not have occurred if German armed forces had prevailed over the Soviet Union, allowing for a “territorial solution” to the Jewish question such as a “reservation” in eastern Poland or in Madagascar. (The New Republic, Nov. 25, 1991, pp. 16, 18.; Die Presse, Vienna, Jan. 28, 1992.)

Tudjman reaffirmed his Revisionist outlook in a recent interview with Canadian television: “With regard to Jews, I'm inclined to agree with those scholars in the world who say that the figure of six million is exaggerated.” (The New Republic, Jan. 20, 1992, p. 5.)

Tudjman's views are all the more noteworthy because they are by someone who cannot be regarded as a “Nazi” or “fascist.” During the Second World War he fought against Croatia's pro-German Ustashe regime as a general in Tito's partisan army.

Tudjman readily acknowledges that Jews suffered “terrible hardships” during the war years. But, he adds, “the Jewish people soon afterward became so brutal and conducted a genocidal policy toward the Palestinians that they can rightly be defined as Judeo-Nazis.”

In light of the harsh anti-Jewish policies of the wartime Croatian state, it is hardly surprising that Israel and Jews around the world have not been particularly friendly toward the new Croatia. In an effort to offset this bitter legacy, Tudjman sent a conciliatory letter to World Jewish Congress president Edgar Bronfman. “We deeply regret the tragic burden of the Holocaust that was endured by the Jewish people on Croatian territory,” Tudjman wrote. (Die Presse, Vienna, Jan. 28, 1992.)

He has also sought to relieve the fears of Croatia's Jewish community. Indeed, the country's Jewish leaders have applauded Tudjman and his government for its unequivocal condemnation of neo-fascism.

In spite of such gestures, Tudjman's Revisionist statements may ultimately prove to be politically too costly. In that case, he may be obliged to “recognize reality” and repudiate them.

Tudjman also writes in his book about Jasenovac, a concentration camp run by the wartime Croatian government. Orthodox historians have insisted for decades that “at least 700,000” people were killed there. According to an estimate cited by American Holocaust historian Nora Levin, for example, 770,000 Serbs, 40,000 Gypsies and 20,000 Jews were put to death in Jasenovac. (N. Levin, The Holocaust, 1973, p. 515.)

Croats have long maintained that about 60,000 perished in the camp, but Tudjman reckons that even this figure is too high. The most probable figure, he maintains, is between 30,000 and 40,000. Moreover, he goes on, Jewish inmates were largely responsible for the killings there. (The New Republic, Nov. 25, 1991, pp. 16, 18.; Die Presse, Vienna, Jan. 28, 1992.)

The anti-Croatian guerrillas — whether Tito's Communist “partisans” or Drazha Mihailovic's Royalist “Chetniks” — had no “death camps” before the war's end, because they normally murdered their captives. (The lucky ones were shot out of hand.) Tito's Communist forces — which were backed by the United States and Britain — carried out mass killings of German prisoners of war and native “collaborators” (most of them Croatian “Ustashe” soldiers and Slovenes) both during the war and in the period just afterwards.

Historians have estimated that Tito's forces shot between 70,000 and 100,000 people without trial within weeks of the war's end. (A few scholars have estimated that there may have been as many as 500,000 victims.) Most of these were people who had been trying to flee from Tito's grasp. Instead of finding freedom, though, they were forcibly returned by British troops from detention camps in Austria, or were turned back at the border by British occupation forces in southern Austrian and northern Italy.

One of the Tito execution sites was Sosice, located about 40 miles west of the Croatian capital of Zagreb. An estimated 40,000 people — many of them sick and wounded — were put to death there. It wasn't until 1990 that the grisly details of the Sosice killings finally emerged from 45 years of suppression. ("Pile of Bones in Yugoslavia,” New York Times, July 9, 1990.; “Yugoslav Killing Fields,” Los Angeles Times, Nov. 4, 1990.)

In recent articles about Croatia, American newspapers and magazines frequently refer to the Second World War Croatian government of Ante Pavelic as a dictatorial regime that was a “puppet” of Hitler's Third Reich. This is not accurate. The vast majority of Croatians welcomed and strongly supported Pavelic's wartime “Independent State of Croatia.” If any regime in the region might properly be called a German “puppet,” it would be the wartime Serbian government of Milan Nedic.

Meanwhile, Croatian television has reportedly decided that it will no longer broadcast motion pictures that depict Germans as evil Nazis or aggressors. In light of wartime Germany's staunch support for Croatian freedom, the television announced, showing such films would be in “poor taste.” (Der Standard, Vienna, Jan. 4, 1992)


Source: Reprinted from The Journal of Historical Review, vol. 12, no. 2, pp. 240-243.