If it’s been eight months and a country’s leadership still hasn’t managed to remove a fascist plaque from the area near a WWII concentration camp, either it can’t figure out how or it doesn’t really want to. Neither of these possibilities is good.
In December 2016, a Croatian Defense Forces (HOS) plaque with the fascist Ustasha slogan “Za dom spremni” (For the homeland ready) was put up near the Jasenovac WWII concentration camp. The HOS plaque is still there now. Prime Minister Andrej Plenković of the ruling HDZ has just announced that the “situation” would be resolved “in September”. But over the weekend, Justice Minister Dražen Bošnjaković said the plaque would stay right where it is until next year when the government can pass a law first. This response earned him some criticism, so Bošnjaković revised his official position on the plaque with the fascist Ustasha slogan and said that the “Administration Ministry” would be working on it. The Administration Ministry formerly issued a statement saying there was no need to remove the plaque from the municipality of Jasenovac unless Croatia passed a law banning totalitarian symbols.
The current Croatian government’s general reticence to remove the plaque coupled with the suggestion that it might need to pass a law “banning totalitarian symbols” first has really revealed its true colors this week.
On August 23rd, European Parliament representatives from Croatia and seven other countries issued a forceful joint statement demanding a thorough investigation into the “crimes of totalitarian communist regimes” committed during the 20th century. The statement also mentions “measures to dismantle the heritage of former communist totalitarian regimes”.
The statement was drawn up on the so-called “Europe-wide Day of Remembrance for the Victims of all Totalitarian and Authoritarian Regimes” or “Black Ribbon Day”, established by the European Parliament in 2009 despite objections that the observance constituted historical revisionism and trivialized Nazism.
The very same Croatian government calling for the “dismantling of communist totalitarian heritage” before the European Parliament has simultaneously demonstrated that it doesn’t think its own “Ustasha fascist totalitarian heritage” should be dismantled. In other words, “heritage” from Yugoslavia should be banned, but fascist Ustasha slogans put up in the vicinity of a concentration camp where many, many people died very violent deaths at the hands of the same fascists should be allowed to stay up.
After more than eight months, if a country’s leadership still hasn’t removed a fascist plaque from a WWII concentration camp it’s probably safe to assume it doesn’t really want to.