Monday, September 19, 2016

Jasenovac Concentration Camp. Extermination Camp. Forgotten. Memorabilia sent out.

Update 2016.  Jasenovac Concentration Camp issue: What obligation is there to remember, correct the injustices of the past.  Any? France, for example, is trying to rectify the past: US begins paying out reparations from France to Holocaust survivors and their heirs.  In the alternative, shall genocides, mass killings, be swept aside and memorabilia sent out, ignored. Jasenovac is one of some 20-22 concentration camps in Croatia WWII, See  . 

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, and  The versions of the involvement of church and other officials vary widely. * Do your own research. Example,, 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.

2.  Transport WWII prisoners. You can see a railroad spur, with a locomotive, caboose and boxcars that brought the people in, left as an exhibit. Its cargo long gone.

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

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  

4.  Extent of killing.  There were some 83,000 persons killed, including children. See Jasenovac Memorial site at

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  What issues arise in maintaining sites for remembrance purposes.  See

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
  • 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.
8.  Bottom line.  Lack of consistency in what messages are conveyed.

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  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, for a blog on Jasenovac, including comments on Stepinac. See also"  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.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

One Cardinal in a Watering Trough. History in Art, Sculpture. Take Good Notes

Drowning priests. Why is the monster dragging him down?
Ask Daniel Widing, observer.
Can we find out?
Who knows RC hats?

From three coins in a fountain move to one cardinal in a watering trough.  Or does the hat on the religious one signify only priesthood? Either way, what is he doing there. Who is she? We know that is Dan Widing, of Car-Dan Tour Company, a happenstance passer-by, by the tree. He is somber. What is the tale?  Somber.

Dan and I speculated about this mystery scene at the time, then failed to fully identify it in our daily logs.  It haunts, particularly with current concerns with violations of the fiduciary duty of those in mainstream Western World's largest religious institution. 

Quick, take the picture Snap -- with my son there adding to the drama, but signifying only a tourist, not a victim watching just desserts.  We have just found where we think this is-- not in Croatia at all, but in Slovenia, perhaps Ljubljana, or Kranj. Note to self take better notes. Slovenia emerged from notes location in Dan's log. Travel on your own, and mess up the pictures sometimes.

  • See issue update at Slovenia Road Ways, not Croatia after all.  We had spent a few days in Slovenia, same trip, crossing the border from Croatia, and heading to Llubljana, Lake Bled, and Kranj.  The Diocese of Ljubljana Cathedral is there.  This appears to be indeed a modern reflection of an issue plaguing the church, as well as other aspects of Western culture. Other cultures? Beyond us.  Meanings of old words, the gravitas of them, have been lost from a clearer anti-abuse position, to merely "don't offend little children." Vet. See Plain Meaning Nemesis, Papal Retirement.  Why has this issue been shunted aside.

The process of travel without agendas, and how we learn our history, is the point here.

Go first, take the photos and keep the guidebooks, then learn details at home.  We never know what might be interesting, and current.

  • In researching this unfortunate fellow, we found someone named Cardinal Baggio who was drowned in Hollywood style, film Angels and Demons, in Bernini's Fountain of the Four Rivers in Rome, but that appears to be the stuff of fiction, not fact.  Film:  see  See biography of a real Cardinal Sebastiano Baggio at

We went to art sources:  look for our fountain at  .  No luck with a surface scroll-down, but there are many links.  Then, with further searching, and finding Dan's log, arrived at Slovenia.  See site. Sometimes the name is Franci Frantar. Or Franc Frantar for the transgressor, in the water.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Fjaka. Dubrovnik, Other Islands. New Travel Info. Dubrovnik - Lighthouses

The flaneur is one who ambles, no particular destination in mind, see discussion of the vanishing cyberflaneur at  Those who mess about in boats have the chance to be flaneurs of a coastline, in ways that the unplanned road traveler also enjoys. 

Fjaka, on the other hand, is immobile.  The lean-back, the siesta time, the lazy scratch behind the ear without opening the eyes.

The article notes "fjaka" -- Croatian for "lazy mood." But that is in itself inadequate for the period of nap, of indeterminate length and posture, between productivity and productivity, if even one cares if it returns, or was ever there, huuuunnnhhhhh.

Find a meandering but seductively astute observation of fjaka at Blissful state, beyond control. A faint unconsciousness. Fjakuni. Those who withdraw, seemingly uselessly, from the world. A lengthening cat, heavy in sleep in the sun.
If my brother is allowed to fjak, why am not I?
1.  Flaneurs.  Dubrovnik area.  For those with sailing in mind, the Dalmatian Coast offers multiple destinations, easy cruising in between.  See

Dubrovnik is not the only walled city to see.  This one is south of Dubrovnik, on the way to Montenegro. Dubrovnik was once was the republic known as Ragusa, in the 15th century.  Its maritime power rivaled Venice. It came under its latest siege in 1991, in the "dismemberment" of Yugoslavia, see Financial Times, September 11-12, 2010, article "Grace Under Fire" by Alec Russell. Dubrovnik is a favored location, with its 4-meter thick walls. Best to see it in fall or spring, not the cruise-crowded summer.
Newer possibilities in Croatia: lighthouses. See again the Financial Times from July 8, 2011, Send Out the Speedboat, We Need More Champagne.  Rent Grebeni, off Dubrovnik, some 3 miles off.  Rental lighthouses are now available and going fast. Find some with butlers, chefs, housekeepers.
Some lighthouses originated in the 1800's with the Austro-Hungarian Empire's Habsburgs.  Grebeni was de-commissioned in the 1960's. Take the family:  One single and three double bedrooms.
Rental lighthouses. For us, too time-warped, too static. 
II.  Fjaka; and the more mobile flaneur.

Think of gentlemen of Dubrovnik, quill in hand, and in the soothing arms of the sacred nap.  What is that, the enduring image, half-seen, see Fjaka, Between Times, at   The fjaka. The fjakuna's yawn does not take a lighthouse to find, but perhaps ... it .... can ... dzzzzzzs.

2.  Island off Split, via Hvar, to Vis.
This takes a map.  We did not get to Vis, but understand also from the Financial Times, this one from July 30-31, 2011, has a Hotel San Giorgio that also rents out a lighthouse nearby.   Vis is some two hours by ferry from Split, and housed a cave headquarters for Tito in WWII.  Other military installations were also on the island. There is a dreamy grotto to explore,  baroque palazzos (Venice was less influential here than on the mainland, however), Roman baths, Greek necropolis - city of the dead.
We tend to keep moving, but in a later incarnation, would return to Vis for some fiaka.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Karlovac. Croatian History - And Ethnic, Religious Group Conflict. Deaths writ large and small.

Croatia.  History of a Crossroads.
1.  Deaths writ large - Karlovac
2.  Deaths writ small - Osijek

1.  Deaths writ large.

Slavko Goldstein, Croatian journalist, publisher, philosopher in his way, wrote a book not yet translated, but there is an extensive review worth absorbing. See "He Understood Evil" at
  • In 1941, the Jewish author Slavko Goldstein was living with his parents in the city of Karlovac

Slavko Goldstein's father was among those killed by the Ustache, pro-fascist nationalists who bloomed under the Nazis 1941 ff. What followed: the deaths of "32,000 Jews, 40,000 Gypsies and 350,000 Serbs". See He Understood Evil, a review by Charles Simic, as to Goldstein's book (not yet translated), 1941: The Year That Keeps Returning, Zagreb, Novi Liber, 494 pp., HRK180.00. Find it at  It has been criticized by others, see
The elements are familiar: There is a family from this lovely setting, a medium-sized, working town, regular people. Then deaths on a massive scale. It takes close reading and concentration to absorb all this mass death and history, but do it. How does it happen? This review, from Dialogic, by a Thivai Abhor,; focuses on nationalism as triggering disregard for all other interests, rights, see Le Monde Diplomatique, English ed., at National identity, group identity, has any nation resolved issues of humana vs. immediate self-interest with an ethnic or cultural group.

Croatia has been at the center of Balkan conflict for centuries of invasions, wars, ethnic warring.  Find an overview at  With war criminals still being found and arrested and brought to trial at the Hague, the issue remains important.  How could all this happen.

Croatian history: Conflict, invasions, re-orderings. Complex.

2.  Crossroads and conflicts.  Ancient history to modern. 

2.1  Greeks.   It began with the Greeks, in a peaceful way, apparently, see Croatian History at .  The Greeks established colonies in 600 BC. Here in Croatia, see Cavtat at
Then came the Romans.
2.2  Avars. Migrating groups soon arrived, although elements of smaller groups may have shared space with the Romans, see
2.3  Croats.  Now begins more forceful takeovers.

Croats came, we understand, from the Ukraine in the 6th Century AD. They defeated the Romans and others at the Adriatic Sea area, and its many ports, in about 614-635 AD. The Croats also beat back the Avars, another group, back to the Danube: then were awarded lands under the sovereignty of the Byzantine Empire, that became the Orthodox branch of Christianity.
2.4.  King Tomislav. 
King Tomislav, Capilyn, Bosnia

Tomislav first ruled over a unified Croatia - until his mysterious death in 928 when the Roman branch of Christianity was competing with the Orthodox (see and  Then begin the back and forth wars and migrations among Montenegro, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Istria, other regions.
2.5  Turkish Ottomans. 
Invasions of the Turks (Ottomans): see, leading to tensions that persisted and augmented both World Wars, and to today in some regions: Orthodox Christians, Roman Christians, Hungarians, Muslims, Magyars.
The capital, Zagreb, became a seat of a Bishop in 1094 a Roman Catholic Bishop, in the conservative and authoritarian Roman mode. This was only after centuries of conflict with the earlier egalitarian heritage of Nin, see Bishop Grgur Ninski who opposed imposing a Latin service on the people, but lost and was deposed. 
In neighboring Serbia, the Orthodox heritage prevailed, in competition with the Roman, see  That competition continued well through WWII with charges by Orthodox that the Roman clergy stood by while Orthodox were slaughtered in Jasenovac Concentration Camp, offering only "conversion" - of these already Christian people.  See  What proofs of opposing the slaughter has the Vatican provided? Is the issue still current? Apparently so, with the counterattacks on the work of
Is group identity and justification always determinative over rights of an individual. When does tolerance end and threat start
Ethnic group conflict. A part of any society under stress, or where one feels threat by the emergence of another. In Croatia, there is an added element: groups that lived in concert reasonably for centuries, were turned against one another with horrific results. How did that happen after all that time. What are the roots of genocide.

3.  Deaths writ smaller.  Individual Death.

Find compassion, details, of individual deaths, in cultures where portraits, stories, are told on the stones: where circumstance permitted individualization.
Osijek, Croatia, cemetery nearby. Child Therezia, age 16

Here is the face and figure of the child, Therezia, who died at age 16 - a random stop to walk slowly through a graveyard near Osijek. Who was she. How did she die. Who were her people.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Zagreb - Officer Yellachitch, or Jelacic

   Officer Yellachitch.

The modern spelling for the name is "Jelacic"; but the more familiar spelling may come from the fine vintage book about the Balkans, "Black Lamb, Gray Falcon", by Rebecca West, from 1937-41. The officer stands, mounted, in the market square, Jelacic Square.

Yellatchitch-Jelacic according to "Black Lamb" is the 1848 hero who had been appointed Ban of Croatia. He was a Croat General who brilliantly repelled the Hungarians, crushing their rebellion, and thus preserved the Austrian Empire from the Hungarians.  They later joined forces as the Austro-Hungarian Empire, but at this time there was conflict.

"Ban" means "Viceroy".  The story is important for its human betrayal side:  Jelacic was then promptly shoved aside, as other powerful interests and people took over. See, the 1937-41 book, "Black Lamb and Grey Falcon," by Rebecca West at the paperback version pages 53-56, Penguin Books 1994.

Read about the old Zagreb there:  here is the Epilogue at, Old Zagreb, "Black Lamb and Grey Falcon."

Travel reading.  I took the paperback, but cut it in half. It was too thick as a single paperback, too heavy as a hardback. Kept both halves,