Israel’s Peres visits ‘Croatian Auschwitz’

JASENOVAC, Croatia — Israeli President Shimon Peres Sunday went to Jasenovac, the site of Croatia’s notorious World War II concentration camp, to pay tribute to victims killed by the pro-Nazi regime.

By (AFP)

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Published: Sun 25 Jul 2010, 2:07 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 7:48 AM

Peres, who arrived accompanied by his Croatian counterpart Ivo Josipovic, was to visit the Jasenovac camp memorial museum, lay wreaths at a monument for the victims and give a brief speech.

A Jewish prayer was also to be held at the site of the camp, some 100 kilometers (60 miles) southeast of the capital Zagreb, known as ‘Croatia’s Auschwitz’.

Peres, on a three-day visit to Croatia that began Friday, is the second Jewish head of state to visit the camp.

In 2003, then Israeli president Moshe Katsav also went to Jasenovac.

The number of people killed in Jasenovac by Croatia’s World War II pro-Nazi regime — mostly Serbs, followed by Jews, Roma and anti-fascist Croatians — is disputed. They vary from tens of thousands to 700,000 according to Serbian figures.

Relations between Croatia and Israel were strained during the 1990s rule of Croatia’s late autocratic president Franjo Tudjman. Israel had accused him of failing to make a strong denunciation of the country’s pro-Nazi Ustasha regime.

An estimated 75 percent of Croatia’s 40,000 Jews were murdered by the Ustasha.

The ties between the two countries have improved since Tudjman’s death in 2000.

Peres stressed on Friday that Israelis “look upon Croatia as a friend not just as a country.”

Israel has the “highest regard” for the Croatian people and the country’s “decision not to repeat the tragedies of the past but to introduce a new way of living and hoping together,” he said after meeting Josipovic.

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