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"Accounting for Genocide"

Victims and Survivors of the Holocaust

by Professor Helen Fein

Published by: The Free Press, New York
Edition 1979

ISBN 0-02-910220-0
Library of Congress Catalog #: 78-53085

Back Cover:

Dr. Irving Greenberg, Director National Jewish Conference Center: "A pathbreaking work in Holocaust studies... Dr. Fein has gone beyond anecdotal or narrative accounts toward a comparative study of Jewish survival... This book is a must read."

Professor Dr. Sidney H. Aronson, City University of New York "It is an extraordinary piece of work, a great book. The scholarship is overwhelming... With the publication of this book, Dr. Helen Fein goes to the head of the ranks with Hannah Arendt and Raul Hilberg as the most important scholars of the Holocaust."

Professor Dr. Pierre L. van den Berghe, University of Washington: "Absorbingly engrossing... This is the best account I have read of national differences in the carrying out of the Holocaust."

Page 102 - 103

Croatia's independence derived from Hitler's offer of sovereignty (reserving Germany's right to station troops there) in April 1941 to Ante Pavelic, the head of an exclusivist Catholic-Croat terrorist movement, the Ustashi. The Ustashi, established in 1919 and banned in Yugoslavia, had been financed in exile by Italy since 1929. The Ustashi were held responsible for the assassination of King Alexander of Yugoslavia in Marseilles in 1934, an act intended to break up Yugoslavia... Hitler had assented to Croatia's falling within the Italian zone of influence... but Pavelic sought greater identification with Germany, even announcing in June 1941 that the Croats were not Slavs but descendants of the Goths, a Germanic people. However, Croatia was not simply a puppet state, despite the avidity with which it furthered German goals by slaughtering Jews and Gypsies. The policy that it persued, initially of forced conversion and genocide of the Orthodox Serb minority - later a puppet Croatian Orthodox Church was established - was not instigated but tolerated by Germany. Rich tells us that the German officials there,

concerned with the preservation of security and order, were dismayed by the effects of these policies. [The German military attache] protested regularly against the ruthless perasecution of the Serbs and other minority groups... Hitler, however, not only condoned but actively encouraged the Croatian government's racial policies.

Hitler ordered that Germany respect the treaty of May 1941 guaranteeing nonintervention in Croat internal affairs, despite the urgent military threat posed for the Germans by the growth of guerrilla insurgency in Yugoslavia, aggrevated by the Ustashe policies.

The literature of Croatia as an independent state (1941-1945) is sparse; most expatriated nationalist Croatian scholars [in 1979 when this book was written] would apparently prefer to forget or depreciate the bloody record of that state. Yugoslavian scholars [under Croatian Communist tyrant Tito's rule] are not apt to revive ethnic nationalism except in documenting fascist crimes during the war. The Tito government's trial of Archbishop Stepinac, the highest Roman Catholic prelate, for his support of the Ustashi state enabled the Archbishop's sympathizers to exploit anti-Communist antipathy to the regime in the West after the war and to disregard the substantive evidence agains him. Without denying the political functions of the postwar trials, one finds that nonpartisan sources agree that mass genocide was authorized by the state of Croatia. They concur the state instigated, planned, and executed massacres against the Serbian Orthodox minority that made the Serbs more willing to accept conversion to Roman Catholicism, and that the Catholic clergy approved, led, or failed to denounce these massacres. The Croats' collective hatred of the Orthodox Serbs was explicit in folk sayings such as ["Srbe o vrbe" -] "Serbs to the willows [hang the Serbs]." Their anti-Semitism was less openly expressed, for the Jews, unlike the Serbs, had not presented any political challenge to them in prewar Yugoslavia.

By June 1941, signs on public establishments read, NO SERBS, JEWS, NOMADS, AND DOGS ALLOWED. [Emphasized by Professor Fein.] The Serbs unlike Jews and Gypsies, were sometimes offered the chance to become acceptable citizens by conversion. But only the Roman Catholic, Muslim, and German Evangelic faiths were recognized; the Roman Catholic Church had the exclusive right to convert; and the means of salvation offered were sometimes hoax. Serbs awaiting the priest were at times locked in churches and the churches set afire, as Jews had been set afire in synagogues in Poland. Many Serbs and Jews to the adjacent Italian zones, wherein Italian commanders gave them protection. Others joined partisans fighting in the mountains. Thousands of Jews had fled from Croatian cities, leaving behind those unable to fight or flee - women, children, the elderly, and the ill. These people were interned in Croatian concentration camps... The small proportion of inmates who had survived these camps by November 1942 were deported to Auschwitz.

(End quote)

More to come: The role of Croatian Catholic clergy in the massacres...

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First posted: March 10, 1997
Last revised: March 10, 2004