In “The Crime of History” (March), Tomislav Sunic was correct that in both the East and the West the vilification of Nazism far exceeded any criticism of communism. This is evident even in our national politics, where the most damning invective that can be used against an opponent is to accuse him of being another Hitler or (even worse) Joe McCarthy. However, Mr. Sunic goes too far by suggesting that “fear of the possible revival of fascism” may “pave the way for the renaissance of ‘real’ fascism.” Such a statement from someone who (however well-intentioned he may be personally) represents Franjo Tudjman’s neo-fascist state of Croatia would be almost amusing if it weren’t so tragic.
Were the Serbian people just “paranoid” when (with American aid and technology and the assistance of 15 retired U.S. Army mercenary generals) Serbian men, women, and children were driven from their ancestral lands in the Krajina, thus reviving the independent state of Croatia, first established in 1941 by Adolf Hitler? Was it Serbian paranoia when, in Croatia’s 1995 “Operation Storm,” over 200,000 Serbs were driven from their homes, the largest exodus of refugees in Europe since World War II? Was it paranoia when 5,000 Serbs were murdered, and those too old or infirm to escape the carnage had their throats slit or were shot in the back of the head or burned alive in their houses? Even when Croatian jets strafed fleeing refugees, there was no condemnation from the “civilized” world whose attention was successfully distracted by still unproven claims of genocide at Srebrenica, while the real genocide was taking place against the Serbian people.
This is the same Croatia that greeted German troops early last year with the stiff-armed fascist Sieg Heil salute (see Newsweek, Jan. 6, 1997) without one word of protest from the media or Congress. The Nazi salute is now executed at official and non-official functions (“Croatian Nazi salute sounded at funeral,” The Times of London, August 8, 1991).
Reuters News Service reported on February 23 that a Croat rally against Serbs turned ugly “when a group of 100 Croats made fascist salutes, burnt Serb symbols and blocked traffic at a rally intended to intimidate Serb refugees in eastern Croatia. . . . The latest gathering was in front of the Serb Orthodox Church in Baranjsko Petrovo Selo Sunday. . . . Participants built a large fire and burned objects with Serb symbols or writing on them. Wliile standing around the fire, drinking and singing, many participants gave fascist salutes. . . . The rally came a day after unidentified attackers raked with bullets and threw grenades at a Serb house in another village, wounding a 70-year old Hungarian woman in a house nearby.” Jewish leader, scholar, and historian Dr. Klara Mandich wrote in the London Independent, “What worries us, is that those in power in Croatia are largely the same as in the Nazi era. In some cases, they are exactly the same people, now in their seventies and back from exile under Communists. In other cases, they are children of the Ustashi.”
I certainly would not suggest that Mr. Sunic is in sympathy with this undeniable tendency in today’s Croatia; indeed, I would hope and expect that he is motivated by a general hostility toward totalitarianism of any stripe: red, brown, or whatever we might call what Clinton and Company are peddling today. Nor do I mean to suggest that others in the new Balkan wars are innocent of similar tendencies, whether we refer to the Islamic regime of Alija Izetbegovic in Sarajevo or the Clinton-supported communist regime of Slobodan Milosevic in Belgrade. But it is at best the height of naiveté—and at worst misrepresentation—to suggest that today’s regime in Zagreb is anything less than the ideological heir of the “Independent State of Croatia” of Ante Pavelic and his henchmen.
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