News 23 Jul 15

Croatian President Apologises for Nazi Regime Deaths

President Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic visited the World Centre for Holocaust Research in Jerusalem and expressed her “deepest regrets” about victims of the Nazi-allied regime in Croatia in WWII.

Sven Milekic
BIRN
Zagreb

Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic lays a wreath at Yad Vashem.

Photo: Croatian Presidency.

During a four-day visit to Israel, Grabar Kitarovic visited the Yad Vashem World Centre for Holocaust Research on Wednesday and strongly condemned the pro-Nazi regime that was in power in Croatia during WWII.

“I express my deepest regrets to all the victims of the Holocaust in Croatia, killed at the hands of the collaborationist Ustasa regime during World War II,” she said during a ceremony at Yad Vashem.

The Ustasa were elite units of the Nazi-allied wartime-era Independent State of Croatia (NDH) who were responsible for running concentration camps and massive crimes against Serbs, Jews, Roma and anti-fascists.

Grabar Kitarovic said that the NDH brought great shame on the Croatian nation, but that everyone must deal with their past and accept it.

She also emphasised the significance of the anti-fascist movement in Croatia, which she said was one of the “proportionally biggest resistance movements in WWII”.

“I am grateful to those who put us on the right side of history. The Republic of Croatia is based on anti-fascism and the Homeland War [the term used in Croatia for the 1991-95 war],” she stated.

She also announced that a Holocaust centre would open in Zagreb.

At the event on Wednesday, the Croatian-born Hollywood producer Branko Lustig also donated his Oscar award for the film ‘Schindler’s List’ to Yad Vashem. As a child, Lustig went through the Auschwitz and Bergen Belsen concentration camps.

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