Remembering Kristallnacht

Remembering Kristallnacht

The Jewish Community of Zagreb and the Coordination of Croatian Jewish Communities commemorated the 81st Anniversary of Kristallnacht at the Square of the Victims of Fascism in Zagreb. Commemoration was attended by representatives of antifascist movement as well as politicians of clear antifascist profile. Consequently, there were no representatives of the governing party. His excellency Ilan Moor, the Ambassador of Israel to Croatia, was also present.

In their speeches Mr. Kraus, the president of the Jewish Community in Zagreb, as well as the President of Coordination of Croatian Jewish Communities brought back the memories of the horrible event in 1938 that started the systematic destruction of a nation and its culture in the middle of Europe, today known as Kristallnacht. In this rampage of Nazism more than 1300 people were killed, over 1400 synagogues were destroyed or damaged together with more than half of Jewish Community buildings in Germany and Austria. 7500 shops and businesses were devastated. The next day, on November 10th, more than 30 000 men were transported to concentration camps.

Unfortunately, the current situation in Europe and especially in Croatia does not give hope for a promising conclusion “never again”.

Hate speech and physical attacks on „the others“ –either because of their complexion, faith, cultural tradition and, as it happens right now in Croatia, because of their political believes – are identified daily in Europe as well as in Croatia. However, while in Western Europe the politics and the democratic institutions distance themselves and fight such tendencies, in Croatia the central right party and right wing parties along with sympathizing politicians not only participate in such tendencies, but also help in creating them.

Mr. Kraus stated in his speech that a number of MPs from the governing HDZ party suggested to remove the official state holyday that marks the date when in Croatia the fight against fascism in the WW2 started. Further, Mr. Karamarko, the previous but possibly also the future president of HDZ, made clear in an interview that his political platform will be the „dismantling of antifascism“. In his speech Mr. Kraus also said that he believes we are not far from the day when the same people will suggest to inaugurate April 10, 1941 as an official state holiday in Croatia, the date when the fascistic Independent State of Croatia (NDH) was established.

„The tendency and the effort to rehabilitate the NDH, a criminal state based upon the racial laws and Ustashas is tolerated by the governing strucutures. Observing as equal the antifascist movement and Ustashas is allowed. Rewriting a new, revised history of Croatia is officially financed and a tangible support is provided to infiltrate this new history into education at all levels. The laws that penalize such activities do exist but so far they have never been implemented“

On August 23, 2019 a commemoration for the victims of totalitarian regimes was held on the cemetery in Šestine – a suburb of Zagreb. In this cemetery a large number of German soldiers as well as Ustashas were buried. In attendance to the commemoration were top public officials and servants of Croatia like Mrs. President, emissary of the Prime Minister along with some ministers, the Mayor of Zagreb.... Would this be possible in any of Western European countries?

For all said and because of numerous other but similar reasons, at the end of his speech Mr. Kraus sent a clear message: We are here to remember the Kristallnacht, to honor the victims of racial laws wherever they fell and to prevent equalization of antifascists with Ustashas. And to warn of dangers from xenophobia and nationalism – dangers that are knocking at our doors.

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