Croatian Jews hold own Holocaust commemoration, rebuking government

Marcy Oster

(JTA) — Croatian Jews held a Holocaust commemoration a week before the scheduled government event that the community said it would boycott.

Some 300 Jewish residents of Croatia attended the ceremony held Friday at the Nazi death camp at Jasenovac, near Zagreb, The Associated Press reported.

Earlier this month, the Coordinating Committee of the Jewish Communities of Croatia said it would hold its own commemoration “in line with Jewish tradition” instead of participating in the government one at the death camp, in order to protest alleged government inaction to curb neo-Nazism.

The committee’s president, Ognjen Kraus, said at the time that the move followed cases of open anti-Semitism, including chants by demonstrators of pro-Nazi slogans at an anti-government march in January and during a soccer match between the Israeli and Croatian national teams last month.

Every April, Croatia honors the victims of the Jasenovac death camp, which was operated by the pro-Nazi Ustasha regime of World War II. The camp is known as “Croatia’s Auschwitz.”

In all, some 30,000 of Croatia’s Jews died during the Holocaust — 80 percent of the country’s Jewish population, according to the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum in Jerusalem.