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Tudjman No Threat : LETTERS TO THE EDITOR (The New York Times, October 2, 1996)

Regarding "The Biggest Threat to Bosnia Isn't the Serbs" (Opinion, Sept. 23) by Jim Hoagland:

Mr. Hoagland's piece about Croatia and its president, Franjo Tudjman, lacks substance. What evidence does he provide to back up the assertion by an anonymous former American diplomat that Mr. Tudjman is "the most dangerous person for Bosnia's future"? None.

Croatia has played a crucial role in Bosnia's Muslim-Croat federation, and it continues to abide by all of the Dayton agreement's provisions. It may also be worth recalling that at one point in the Bosnian drama, Croatia was housing more than 150,000 Bosnian Muslim refugees.

The New York Times

The Croatian Record : LETTERS TO THE EDITOR (The New York Times, December 3, 1993)

Published: December 3, 1993

Regarding the editorial "Bad Memories of Croatia" (Nov. 16):

Some foreign journalists have criticized Croatia for its alleged drift toward neo-fascism. A number of well-meaning television and newspaper correspondents have accused the Croatian president, Franjo Tudjman, of reviving the Ustashe-fascist legacy of World War II Croatia. This hearsay flies in the face of the truth and needs to be rejected.

At the recent party congress, Mr. Tudjman honored the victims of fascism and communism, whether Jews, Serbs or Croatians. The intellectual godfathers of the ruling party in Croatia were not just19th century nationalist thinkers, but also many contemporary liberal and socialist thinkers, who fought for full Croatian sovereignty.

The very fact that President Tudjman, as a young man, fought with the Communist Tito forces against Croatian Ustashes and their Nazi helpers speaks clearly in favor of the anti-fascist credentials of modern Croatia.

The present war in the Balkans cannot be understood without taking into account the full scope of recent Croatian history - both fascist and anti-fascist. As a former historian and present statesman, Mr. Tudjman had the courage to demolish the Communist hagiography, and to point to the suffering of the Croatian people inflicted upon them by 45 years of communism in Yugoslavia.

The New York Times

Does the Truth Lie in the Former Yugoslavia?; Croatian Coin Reborn (The New York Times, June 10, 1994)

Published: June 10, 1994

To the Editor:

On May 30, Croatia introduced a new currency called the kuna. "Kuna" is a Croatian name for marten, a small ferretlike mammal found commonly in some Croatian forests. The introduction of the monetary unit kuna has, unfortunately, led to some controversy and misunderstanding because the monetary unit kuna was also in use in pro-fascist Croatia during World War II.

For more than 100 years, notably between 1260 and 1384, a silver coin was regularly minted for the Croatian bans, or viceroys, with the likeness of a marten on one side. Above the marten was engraved a Jerusalem cross, while a six-pointed star was engraved below. Surrounding these symbols were the words "Monetarecis Sclavonia."

The use of the marten on the coin was basically a metaphoric reference to levying taxes and for the measure of barter, which was common in medieval Croatia. The importance of the marten as a Croatian symbol is further demonstrated by the adoption of the marten as a central element on the Croatian coat of arms.

The kuna has had a long and legitimate history in Croatia. Its abuse by pro-fascist Croatia during World War II does not disqualify it from further use. If one were to use this criterion, many other European currencies would also need to be disqualified. The kuna remains an attractive name, certainly not because of its tragic abuse during World War II, but rather because of its distinctly Croatian origins and its firm historical grounding.

Head of Culture and Promotion Dept.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Zagreb, Croatia, June 1, 1994

The New York Times

THE JERUSALEM POST (October 15, 2009) Letters to the Editor

Offensive, intolerable... ...and incomplete Sir,

Whenever an article appears in the foreign media dealing with the role of Croatia during WWII, the reader must expect a deluge of unsubstantiated body counts. For their part, to prove their anti-fascist atonement, Croats worldwide must resort to apologetic disclaimers and self-accusatory mea culpas.

Your writer might as well have gone a step further and declared that present-day Croatia is a Xerox copy of the former fascist WWII Croatia - since, after all, this newly reborn state uses more or less the same insignia while officially rejecting the number of 700,000 victims allegedly killed by Croat fascists.

What in fact are the empirical sources that the author mines when he states that WWII Croatia was "the most murderous of the Axis-aligned countries?" Instead he discusses the marginal Croatian NGO, the Croatian Cultural Movement (HUP) and its desire to erect a monument to Ante Pavelic.

Is your writer fluent in Croatian and German? Has he ever visited the German Federal Archives in Koblenz in order to give free rein to Efraim Zuroff's admonition "to any person with any sense of moral integrity" regarding the crimes committed by Ustashi Croats? The whole piece smacks of the old-style Yugoslav communist "normative agitprop locution," or the Soviet-styled "double talk" - which a B-student would have a hard time swallowing.

Croatian history - and, for that matter, European history as a whole - is not black and white. Your writer could have mentioned that the head of WWII Croatia, Ante Pavelic, had a number of Muslim ministers in his government, and that a number of Croats of Jewish extraction served as high ranking officers in Ustashi military units.

Last but not least, he might have mentioned large-scale genocides, in the months after WWII, of hundreds of thousands of Croatian and German civilians by the Yugoslav communist strongmen Josip Broz Tito, whose handful of surviving butchers, although senile, are still vocal in Croatia. As usual their killing fields are consigned to historical oblivion.

Instead of wasting time on the trivial portraiture of would-be Pavelic fans, serious research should be done on communist crimes of the former Western darling, the ex-communist Yugoslavia.