1. Setting. At Jasenovac, there is a path on railway ties leading past a lovely still pond to a deserted tulip monument, but the fountain-pool area inside runs dry. The tulip is apparently intended as a flame image, There is no illumination to the flame, and the fountain runs dry.
There is little left of this World War II concentration camp at Jasenovac, Croatia.
Axis forces invaded what is now Croatia in 1941, and an independent pro-Nazi government state was formed within a short time. Targeted for extermination here were Jews, Serbs (Orthodox who would not convert to Roman Catholicism, and even some who did but found they were given no reprieve, just assured of salvation), and Gypsies. See http://www.holocaustresearchproject.org/othercamps/jasenovac.html, and http://www.srna.rs/novosti/425705/stepinac-planned-to-convert-serbia-to-catholicism-.htm. The versions of the involvement of church and other officials vary widely. * Do your own research. Example, http://www.jasenovac.org/exhibits.php, for a history of the Ustache activities. and is one of 22 such camps in its district, Croatia, according That site is disturbing for its additional information, the role of Roman Catholic commanders, although the religion of any such participants in matters of the Holocaust was no deterrent to their activities.
Railroad transport for prisoners, Jasenovac Concentration camp, Croatia.
The location suits obscurity and fast railroad transit for patrons. Drive west from Zagreb to the agricultural panhandle of Croatia, on the motorway, toward Osijek. The town of Jasenovac, eponymous,is near the Bosnian border with no highway sign. There was only a turnoff at the approximate spot, to find the site, now just this thumb-in-your-eye ignored park.
3. Minimal information. You will find little information of what happened here except for a Croatian language small relief map on a metal pedestal. Its relics and photos were apparently moved to the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. See http://www.ushmm.org/museum/exhibit/online/jasenovac/.
But is that move just an excuse to get the nastiness out of Croatian memory, a short-lived fake attempt to memorialize something not featured at all now, so the place of Jasenovac both here and there is lost?
- A visit to the Holocaust Museum itself in the District of Columbia, Washington DC, however, showed nothing to us of Jasenovac. Nada. Ask and no-one had a clue. At home,
- I found this site for the Museum, so they do have something: Visit https://www.ushmm.org/search/results/?q=Jasenovac.
4. Extent of killing. There were some 83,000 persons killed, including children. See Jasenovac Memorial site at http://www.jusp-jasenovac.hr/default.aspx?sid=6711
Mass graves and markers, Jasenovac Concentration Camp, Jasenovac Etermination Camp, Croatia
5. Obligation to remember. Is there such? I understand that the area was destroyed in the 1940's, as also happened at much of Bergen-Belsen, and Buchenwald, then abandoned during the 1990's wars. See www.ushmm.org/museum/exhibit/online/jasenovac/. What issues arise in maintaining sites for remembrance purposes. See http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7827534.stm
Even where there was destruction after WWII, many sites of other concentration and extermination camps offer museums and exhibits. Of those, only at Mauthausen, from our travels, can a traveler see almost all the original buildings and the work-death sites. Should a museum or interactive displays at least should have been left open at Jasenovac. The area is essentially a wildlife preserve now, with a flat, mowed area with humps in the ground, and the outlines of rectangles, a museum building with windows broken and even the WC locked.
There was a bouquet of flowers from someone somewhere there, my notes note, but no memorials or even lists of names that I saw. There is nothing of the people who died there - not even stacks of glasses and shoes and passports and wallet photos and dental work, as at Auschwitz or Dachau.
7. It is probably too late to reconstruct anything meaningful at Jasenovac. The Memorial Museum is locked and windows broken.
Closed, abandoned museum, Jasenovac Concentration Camp, Croatia
If you go, you will be alone, except for a possible tractor and a cyclist or two.
No tourist traffic at Jasenovac Extermination Camp, just agricultural, recreational
At least look up the pictures of the horrors on the internet, and the discussions of religion-motivated executions, not just Nazi. Documents reviewed.
- We don't do much better in preserving history that does not favor our own self-image. We hide our Jim Crow era, with entry to the Jim Crow Museum by appointment. See http://www.ferris.edu/jimcrow/FAQ.
- We fake the nobility of our leaders' responses to 9/11 at NYC, pretending they did all they reasonably could before and after. Nationalism amok fails all of us. Why were not even their words followed by themselves as they abandoned the trail because it was difficult and headed for another country to invade, thinking it would be easy. No government is immune to self-serving.
In Croatia, even the German soldiers get better treatment than do those killed by them. See the Zagreb post on Miragoj Cemetery. Lists of German names, birth dates, dates of death, even though in a common grave. No complete listing of those killed at Jasenovac is at the site, that we saw.
There is a compendium of the dead, however, at this Jasenovac Memorial site, at http://www.jusp-jasenovac.hr/default.aspx?sid=6711. Eighty-three thousand killed.
Burial memorial, Zagreb, Croatia. Cardinal Stepinac, issue of Croatian Roman Catholic v. Orthodox Serbs, WWII, See Jasenovac Extermination Camp
* This is the burial place at St. Peter's, Zagreb, of Archbishop Aloysius Stepinac, who had a role in preventing/enabling deaths by Nazi, depending on what sources you believe, that some see as heroic, others as a betrayal. See, for example, http://www.grayfalcon.blogspot.com/2005/04/forgotten-genocide. for a blog on Jasenovac, including comments on Stepinac. See also http://www.emperors-clothes.com/croatia/stepinacfile.doc" Is there pressure to keep Jasenovac under the radar for religious and political reasons?
There is an elaborate coffin on display near the altar in Zagreb at St. Peter's, that tour guides say is Stepinac's coffin, but other sources say he really is buried at the wall. See Jasenovac photos, discussion.
Jewish history in Croatia, including through WWII and after: See Jews in Croatia. The site points out that Dubrovnik has the second oldest synagogue in the world.