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28 Oct 16

Croatian Minister Praised WWII Fascist Official

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New Croatian Science and Education Minister Pavo Barisic praised a WWII Nazi-allied Ustasa official, calling him “a tragic hero and a victim”, in a scientific paper he wrote in 1992, media reported.

Sven Milekic
BIRN

Zagreb

Pavo Barisic. Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Silverhand333.

Croatian weekly newspaper Novosti reported on Friday that the country’s new Science and Education Minister Pavo Barisic wrote a scientific paper in 1992 in which he praised the work of a high-ranking member of the Croatian World War II-era fascist Ustasa movement, Julije Makanec.

In the paper ‘Julije Makanec’s Philosophy of History’, published in a scientific journal called Contributions to the Research of Croatian Philosophical Heritage by the Institute for Philosophy – which Barisic headed at the time – he praised Makanec’s work in the field of philosophy without mentioning his important ideological role in the Ustasa-led Independent State of Croatia, NDH.

The NDH, a Nazi puppet state which ruled from April 1941 to May 1945, passed racial laws against Serbs, Jews and Roma and ran a system of concentration camps, of which the most notorious was Jasenovac, where there was a death toll of over 83,000 people.

In the scientific paper, Barisic praised Makanec for his “great erudition”, his “distinctive style of writing” and the “linguistic virtuosity with which he dresses up his deep philosophical thoughts”.

He said that when Makanec was executed by the Yugoslav Partisans in 1945, he “joined the parade of Croatian martyrs”, and also referred to him as “a tragic hero and a victim”.

Makanec, who was a philosopher before WWII, was the mayor of the town of Bjelovar in central Croatia in 1941 and immediately took up a position in the Ustasa movement, leading a rebellion of local Croats against the forces of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, which crumbled in April 1941 confronted by the Axis powers.

He was named the Ustasa’s adjutant for the Bjelovar region but did not react to the killings of local Serb civilians in the village of Gudovac in April, the first major massacre under the NDH regime.

Makanec was appointed the senior official in charge of the ‘spiritual development’ of Ustasa youth in early 1942 and as education minister in late 1943.

In his 1942 pamphlet ‘Ustasa Virtues’, Makanec wrote that “every community has the right to eradicate, destroy, or at least make harmless those individuals who weaken and ruin it due to the utter lack of virtue”.

The British historian Rory Yeomans has written that in 1944, Makanec even turned against the Archbishop of Zagreb, Alojzije Stepinac.

When Stepinac spoke out against racism and crimes against Jews in a sermon, Makanec accused him of spreading “political defeatism and political rebellion amongst warriors who with their lives defend not only the foundations of the Croat state but also the Catholic Church from enemies”.

When the NDH finally capitulated, Makanec fled to Austria with other high-ranking Ustasa officials but was captured by British forces and handed to the Yugoslav Partisans in May 1945.

A month after, he was tried in Zagreb and sentenced to death. He was executed and buried in an unknown location.

When Barisic’s article was published in 1992, philosophy professor Josip Talanga quit the scientific journal’s editorial team, saying that “Barisic did not condemn the fact that Makanec was the ideologue of the NDH with a single word in that article”.

In 1993, Barisic also compiled and edited a book of Makanec’s lectures, in which he again did not mention the NDH regime’s crimes in his prologue and epilogue.

When the Novosti article was previewed on Thursday, Efraim Zuroff, the director of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre’s Israel and Eastern Europe office, told news site Index that he hoped that  Barisic had changed his mind about the Ustasa since 1992.

“The last thing in the world that anyone should want is that the education minister admires Ustasa ministers and the Ustasa regime,” Zuroff said.

He noted that Croatia had got rid of its controversial Culture Minister Zlatko Hasanbegovic, who was also accused of being an apologist for the Ustasa, but was now facing new problems with its new government.

“The education minister is responsible for developing the knowledge… [and the] ethics of future generations, and such a person should not in any way be associated with the Ustasa regime,” he said.

From the day that his appointment was announced, Barisic has been dogged by controversy.

There have been allegations that he plagiarised a number of authors in another scientific article entitled ‘Does Globalisation Threaten Democracy’.

One of the authors who he allegedly plagiarised, Stephen Schlesinger, an expert on international relations, told Index last week that Barisic had copied part of his work without crediting him.

Barisic was reported for alleged plagiarism back in 2011, but Novi list newspaper reported on Friday that the state agency for science and high education’s ethics committee has now decided that it will finally review the case. http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/article/croatian-minister-praised-ustasa-minister-in-science-paper-10-28-2016