Croatia

1 Recognition of the Genocide

1.1 Recognition, official texts

The Republic of Croatia recognises that, together with Jews and Serbs, the Roma have suffered the most in the Second World War in the Independent State of Croatia (NDH). In the first few days after the establishment of the NDH - 10th April 1941 - the Ustasha regime introduced a number of laws which have led to the destruction of particular ethnic groups, racial and religious groups as well as those with different ideologies.

In the “Law on Racial Affiliation” (30th April 1941) and the “Law on the Protection of Aryan Blood and Honour of the Croatian People” (30th April 1941), which were actually copies of Nazi racial laws, the so-called “pure Aryans” were specified and it was precisely defined which persons are Jews or Roma. According to the “Law on Citizenship” from 30th April 1941, a citizen of the NDH could have only been a person of Aryan descent, which implied that the Ustasha regime would use violence against citizens whose background or religion is “non-Aryan”. After publishing the Guidebook for Drafting a Statement on Racial Affiliation, on 3rd July 1941, the NDH adopted the Decision on the Obligatory Listing of the Roma, and at the same time the issue of their colonisation became relevant, for which purpose the Institute of Colonisation was established with the aim of achieving “internal colonisation” (Croatian State Archives, documents from the Independent State of Croatia, no. 26841).

In the baseline study document submitted by the Republic of Croatia to the ITF (Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Research) in 2005, the Genocide against the Roma was explicitly mentioned. The document was a prerequisite for achieving the full membership in the Task Force, which took place in November 2005.

2nd August is officially recognised as International Roma Holocaust Remembrance Day, as of 12th December 2014.

1.2 Data (camps locations, Remembrance places, measures etc.)

(Information provided by Jasenovac Memorial Area)

The first mass arrests of Roma began in July 1941. From 20th May 1942, mass arrests of Roma were organised across the entire territory of the NDH as well as their deportation to the Jasenovac Concentration Camp, including Camp III Ciglana in Jasenovac and the concentration camp in Stara Gradiška.

Mass arrests and deportations of the Roma to the Jasenovac Concentration Camp took place from 20th May until the end of July 1942. Upon arrival to the concentration camp, their personal valuables were confiscated and a list of inmates was kept only in the early days. Additional records and documents of the Ustaše origin about the deportation of the Roma to the concentration camp do not contain names but only the number of persons or train cars used for transport.

In June 1942, when the number of incoming Roma to the concentration camp was particularly high, they were divided into two groups. Older men, together with women and children, were separated from younger men and immediately dispatched to Donja Gradina for extermination. Younger men were placed in Camp III C, so called “Brickworks”). In Camp III C prisoners died in large numbers of hunger, thirst, exhaustion and physical mistreatment. They were led to be exterminated on a daily basis. Only a small number of the Roma were divided into groups to perform physical labour, where they predominantly worked on the most demanding jobs.

In the village of Uštica, adjacent to Jasenovac, the Ustasha concentration camp for the Roma, a so-called “Gypsy Camp” was set up. Roma families were placed there, predominantly women and children, for whom there was no room in Camp III Ciglana Jasenovac due to cramped conditions after deportations. A portion of the prisoners was transported during the summer of 1942 to Donja Gradina and exterminated there in the most horrific ways whilst others were killed in the camp itself. Twenty-one mass graves at the Roma cemetery in Uštica bear witness to this.

From 1941 to 1942, the Ustashas incarcerated several thousand people in the industrial area of Danica, town of Koprivnica. Approximately 5 600 prisoners passed through the Danica camp between 1941 and 1942. Although no executions or deliberate killings took place, some 200 to 300 prisoners died of the terrible conditions they were subjected to. Over 3 000 former prisoners of the Danica camp were murdered by members of the Ustaša, mostly in the camps at Jasenovac and Stara Gradiška. In total, about 3 000 Serbs, 1 000 Croats, over 600 Jews and about 400 Roma were incarcerated at Danica.
 
On 24th April 1945, members of a retreating German SS unit caught 43 German Sinti who had fled to Croatia and were hiding in a village near Zagreb. Some of them were tortured and all 43 of them - men, women and children - were then killed and burned in a barn.                                             

1.3 Specialised institution, commission, research centre etc., dealing with this issue

There is no specialised institution, commission or research centre dealing only with the issue of the Genocide of the Roma. However, the Croatian State Archives which are under the authority of the Ministry of Culture, may provide additional information.

The Jasenovac Memorial Area is responsible for maintaining authentic sites and monuments of the former Ustasha Concentration Camp Jasenovac; it collects, classifies and presents museum material and documentation relevant to the operation of the Ustasha Concentration Camp Jasenovac. It also educates visitors and preserves the memory of the victims of the concentration camps.

Besides a furnished and regularly maintained commemorative area of the former Camp III Ciglana Jasenovac in the town of Jasenovac itself, the Jasenovac Memorial Area maintains the Roma cemetery in Uštica, which is located next to the entrance to the town cemetery.

Marulićev trg 21
10000 Zagreb
Croatia
Telephone: +385 1 4801 999
Fax: +385 1 4829 000
 
Braće Radić 147
44 324 Jasenovac
Croatia
Telephone/Fax: +385 44 672 319
 
Government Office for Human Rights and Rights of National Minorities
Mesnička 23
10000 Zagreb
Telephone: +385 1 4569 358
Fax: +385 1 4569 324
E-mail: ured@uljppnm.vlada.hr

1.4 Official initiatives (campaigns, actions, projects, commemoration days, museums)

(Information provided by the Jasenovac Memorial Area.)

Each year, on Sunday closest to 22nd April, the occasion of the final breakout of prisoners from Camp III Ciglana Jasenovac, which occurred on 22nd April, members of a Roma delegation from the area of the former Socialist Federative Republics of Yugoslavia lay wreaths at the Roma cemetery in Uštica. The following representatives address the ceremony: President of the Republic, representatives of the Government, representatives of the Parliament, different religious communities as well as representatives of all groups victimised in Jasenovac, including the Roma. The commemoration is broadcasted on national television.

The victimisation of the Roma in the Ustasha Concentration Camp Jasenovac is presented as a separate thematic unit in the permanent museum exhibition of the Jasenovac Memorial Area Memorial Museum through documents, photographs, commemorations and audio-video testimony from a surviving Jasenovac prisoner (Nadir Dedić). The curriculum of the Jasenovac Memorial Area Educational Centre also shows the victimisation of each ethnic group against which the Genocide was committed and which were victims of the Holocaust - it is through the use of museum material and documentation that pupils and students learn about the victimisation of the Roma in the Ustasha Concentration Camp Jasenovac. Groups of visitors also visit the Roma cemetery in Uštica, with the help of a professional guide, as well as the entire Memorial Area.

In 2003, as part of its publishing activities, the Jasenovac Memorial Area published the book “Genocid nad Romima - Jasenovac 1942” (Genocide against the Roma – Jasenovac 1942), by author Narcisa Lengel-Krizman. In 2004, at the proposal of the Association of Roma Native to Croatia (LOVARI), the Jasenovac Memorial Area had helped set up the “Permanent Documentary and Historical Exhibition of Roma Native to Croatia and the Little Library” by providing copies of documents from museum archives and books from the library. In the Jasenoavac Memorial Area Library, which is open to outside users, a large amount of books on the victimisation of the Roma in World War II has been collected (authors: Dragoljub Acković, Bajram Halipi, Antun Miletić and Dr. Rajko Đurić). In the database of “The List of Names of the Victims of Jasenovac Concentration Camp, 1941-1945”, which was published in 2007, information on 15 151 Roma who were killed in various ways at the Ustasha Concentration Camp Jasenovac has been collected. In accordance with the Law on Changing and Amending the Law on the Jasenovac Memorial Area (Article 6, NN 22/01), representatives of the Roma in the Republic of Croatia have their representative in the Council of the Jasenovac Memorial Area.

In 2003, the Ministry of Education and Sports has adopted the Decision to Establish 27 January as the Day of Remembrance of the Holocaust and the Prevention of Crimes Against Humanity and since then the schools are encouraged to commemorate events that took place.

On 12th December 2014, the Croatia's Parliament has adopted the Decision and thereby declared the 2nd August as International Roma Holocaust Remembrance Day.

2 Teaching about the Genocide of the Roma

2.1 Inclusion of the topic in the school curriculum

The Genocide against the Roma in World War II is included in the 8th grade primary school History Curriculum. (Primary School Curriculum, Ministry of Science, Education and Sports, p. 290, 2006). Under topic no. 6, “Second World War”, key concepts are discussed: politics of abatement, Three-Power Pact, blitzkrieg, Holocaust, Genocide, concentration camps, antifascist coalition, total war, victims and mass killings in Croatia. Educational achievements include: describing how and under which conditions the Independent State of Croatia was established, evaluating the Ustasha regime and condemning the politics of terror against citizens (particularly Serbs, Jews and Roma) as well as racial laws and concentration camps (Jasenovac).

In secondary schools, the Genocide against the Roma is taught in history classes in the final year of three-year and four-year schools. The attitude towards the Roma in this period is taught in lessons about occupied Europe and the Independent State of Croatia (Secondary School Curriculum, Ministry of Education and Sports, p. 173, 1995) and it includes: the establishment of the Independent State of Croatia (NDH), territory of the NDH, governmental organisation of the NDH, relations between NDH and Italy and Germany, the dictatorship of the Ustasha regime and the connection to the fate of the regime’s advocates.

2.2 Inclusion of the topic in the school textbooks

The topic of the Genocide against the Roma in World War II is included in school textbooks for primary schools (ISCED level 2 – history textbook for 8th grade of primary school) and secondary schools (ISCED level 3 – history textbook for 4th grade of secondary school), whilst in higher education this topic is covered as part of education of future history teachers.

2.3 Training of teachers and education professionals

Since 2007, within the framework of the Pestalozzi programme, there has been an annual European workshop giving the Croatian teachers the opportunity to present and share their classroom teaching experiences. These workshops are noteworthy in both quantitative and qualitative terms for not only the knowledge they transmit but also the material which can be directly used by teachers and the emphasis placed on Jasenovac, a genuinely historically symbolic site, as a teaching tool. Read more

Seminar “Teaching and learning about Holocaust and the prevention of crimes against humanity” was organised by the Croatian Education and Teacher Training Agency in Zagreb 2009, the activity is visible on this link.

In 2012, the Education and Teacher Training Agency organised its annual seminar “Teaching about the Holocaust and the Prevention of Crimes against Humanity” for Croatian primary and secondary school teachers, from 25 to 27 January, in Zagreb and at the Jasenovac Memorial Site. The annual seminar is an excellent opportunity for Croatian teachers to broaden their knowledge, learn how to deal with the issue of Holocaust in their teaching, become involved in international projects for schools, and share and connect with others, nationally and internationally.

The Conference "Teaching about the Holocaust and the Prevention of Crimes against Humanity", organised by the Croatian Education and Teacher Training Agency in Zagreb, from 27th January to 30th January 2013, gave the opportunity to Loranda Miletić, an inspector of history education and a member of the Croatian delegation to the IHRA, and Karen Polak to present teaching materials called "The Fate of Roma and Sinti during the Holocaust".

2.4 Particular activities undertaken at the level of education institutions

In 1999, the National Programme for Human Rights Education was adopted. It defines the aim of teaching about the Holocaust as not only to learn about and preserve the memory of the period of unprecedented suffering but also to reflect on what each individual should do to prevent Anti-Semitism, intolerance and any crime against humanity.

The Ministry of Science, Education and Sports continually promotes the creation of additional teaching material for education about the Holocaust and the training of teachers in Croatia and abroad. At least one copy of the printed version of this material is distributed to each Croatian school.

2.5 Remembrance day

Since 2004, the Republic of Croatia has annually observed on the 27th of January the Day of Remembrance of the Holocaust and the Prevention of Crimes Against Humanity.

On 2nd August, a commemoration ceremony is held at the Roma cemetery in the village of Uštica, where Roma victims from the Jasenovac Concentration Camp are buried.

3 Official contacts and resource persons

3.1 Responsible person in the Ministry of Education

According to the available information, there is no designated responsible person in the Ministry of Education.

Donje Svetice 38
10000 Zagreb
Croatia
Telephone: +385 1 4569 000
Fax: +385 1 4594 301
E-mail: uzoj@mzos.hr

3.2 Resource persons - list of experts and historians

Branko Lustig, film producer (two times Oscar winner, including Schindler's list) and a Holocaust survivor

Đuro Zatezalo, historian and lawyer

Filip Škiljan, historian

Slavko Goldstein, writer, director and publisher

Nataša Mataušić, historian, member of the governing board responsible for the Jasenovac memorial centre

Goran Hutinec, historian, member of the Jasenovac governing board

Alen Tahiri, historian, advisor at the Government Office for Human Rights and Rights of National Minorities

Aleksa Đokić, Assistant Director, Government Office for Human Rights and Rights of National Minorities

4 Initiatives of the civil society

4.1 Relevant projects having a real impact on the people and/or the wide public

In 2012, the Education Centre of the Jasenovac Memorial Site organised an exhibition of posters made by schoolchildren. The Poster project was a result of co-operation between the Education and Teacher Training Agency and Yad Vashem. The participants were students and teachers from eight primary and secondary vocational schools who participated in the Project as a part of their extra-curricular activities. Some of the posters dealt with local history, presenting not only the suffering but also the friendship as well as saving of children and adults during the Holocaust.

5 Point of view of the Roma community - including survivors' testimonies

Nadir Dedić and Fatima Dedić are the only Roma who survived Jasenovac, the second largest extermination camp that had taken many Roma lives.

Testimony of Fatima Dedić is a part of a documentary movie “Mémoires tsiganes, l'autre génocide” (The Other Genocide. The Persecution of Sinti and Roma in Europe 1920–1946) made in France and directed by Henriette Asséo, Idit Bloch and Juliette Jourdan (from 41:12 to 43:44).

Nadir Dedić was arrested in the fall of 1942 as a political prisoner when the World War II stroke Bosnia and Herzegovina. He was falsely accused of setting a fire to the hay as a signal to the liberators. “It was that Gipsy boy who did it”, said Dedić and that statement alone was enough for him to end up in the camp where thousands of Roma were already facing their destiny - to be killed in a barbaric way by Ustasha Croatian fascist regime. Together with his wife Fatima, he spent four and a half terrifying months in Jasenovac concentration camp. Mr. Dedić shared an emotional and extremely touching testimony with the participants of the Barvalipe 3rd Roma Pride Summer School that took place in Kolašin, Montenegro, between 16 and 25 August 2013. "Heroes should be praised and celebrated!", said the participants whilst presenting the Appreciation Award to Mr. Dedić. Nadir Dedić's interview at Jadovno Memorial Site in 2014.

Katica Djurdjevich was born in 1921 in the small Croatian village of Viri into a Lovari Roma family. She grew up in the traditional Lovari way. Katica married very young and quickly had two children. Her husband Milan Shain was a Kalderash Rom, and she moved to Pitomača in northern Croatia to join his family, where she supported the family’s income by fortune-telling – a skill she had picked up from her mother and her grandmother. When the war came to Yugoslavia in 1941, and the Ustaše puppet state of Croatia was set up, Roma were subjected to violence and abuse. The first to be taken away were Katica’s family in Viri. They were deported to Jasenovac concentration camp where they were murdered. Katica’s husband and uncle were selected for forced labour in Germany because of their physical strength. Katica, her two small children and the remaining members of her husband’s family were also rounded up, put on cattle cars and transported to Jasenovac. When they reached the camp after eight days, they were informed that they could go home again. Orders had changed and, as ‘non-nomadic Gypsies’, they would no longer be incarcerated. They were sent back to Pitomača in the same cattle cars, but when they arrived they found their houses looted, broken or burnt down by the Ustaše. See more

The testimony of Joka Nikolić, survivor, from Šarapovo near Čazma

Oral History of Ivo Herzer who describes a roundup (from which he was released) of Jews by Croatian collaborators in 1941 and transportation to the concentration camps on the island of Pag and Rab [Interview taken in 1989]