Croatian leadership and Jews in the 1990s

Keywords: antisemitism, Holocaust denial, Franjo Tuđman, Wastelands of Historical Reality, Independent State of Croatia, Jews in Croatia

Abstract

Aim: What was the attitude of the first Croatian president Franjo Tuđman and the Croatian leadership towards the Holocaust and the Jewish community in Croatia in the 1990s? Some considered Tuđman a Holocaust denier because of the purportedly controversial parts of his 1989 book Bespuća povijesne zbiljnosti (Wastelands of Historical Reality). The Croatian leadership was accused of minimizing World War II crimes of the Ustasha regime and rehabilitating the World War II Independent State of Croatia.

Methods: We analyzed archival documents, Tuđman’s published correspondence, controversial parts of his Wastelands of Historical Reality, his public statements, biographical writings of contemporary Croatian leaders, and newspaper articles. We scrutinized the Serbian propaganda against Croatia in the 1990s, the position and role of the Jewish community and prominent Jews in Croatian public life as well as the relations between Croatia and Israel.

Findings: The Croatian leadership and the Jewish community maintained good relations in the 1990s. Some prominent Croatian Jews actively advocated for Croatia’s international recognition and refuted certain authors’ and some Jewish international circles’ accusations of antisemitism among Croatian leadership. Jews participated at the highest levels of Croatian government. Democratic changes at the beginning of the 1990s enabled national, religious, political and other freedoms for minorities in Croatia, including the Jewish community. Still, some authors considered Tuđman an anti-Semite and a Holocaust denier. These opinions were partly shaped by quotes from the Wastelands of Historical Reality taken out of context and published by Serbian propagandists. This propaganda successfully shaped the false perception of official antisemitism in Croatia and has contributed to the delay in the establishment of the diplomatic relations between Croatia and Israel for more than five years after Israel had recognized Croatia.

Conclusion: There is no evidence for claims of political antisemitism in Croatia in the 1990s. This article sheds light on this widely manipulated topic and provides a basis for further researchs.

Published
2020-12-31
Section
Research Articles