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Croatian Leaders vs. WWII Revisionism


We don't have people in the public sphere who are capable of responding radically to radical incidents."

In Sibenik, headmaster Josip Belamaric protested at the exhibition panels that examined the Ustashe regime, Jasenovac and the plight of Jewish children in 1941-45 Croatia, notably that of Lea Deutsch, a celebrated child actress in Zagreb who died aged 16 in a cattle wagon taking her to Auschwitz.

Such content was irrelevant to an exhibit about Anne Frank and the Holocaust, Belamaric told local news portal Sibenski List. Contacted by Reuters, he said: "I have no further comments to make as I did not throw anyone out of the school."

A Croatian government spokeswoman said Plenkovic had already spoken out on the issue of alleged revisionism and that "nothing new can be added at the moment".

The exhibition, created by the Anne Frank Museum in Amsterdam, has toured more than 40 countries worldwide. In each, it includes panels examining that country's own experience with the Holocaust, or more recent human rights issues.

The fact that, before Sibenik, it had visited 23 Croatian schools without incident spoke to the readiness of students and their teachers to confront the Ustashe period, which otherwise receives only limited treatment in Croatian textbooks.

The six panels at issue were later installed in Sibenik's newly-opened anti-fascist museum and other parts of the exhibition appeared on billboards in the city, paid for by the newspaper Nacional in protest at the headmaster's stance.

The Simon Wiesenthal Centre, the Holocaust research body, demanded authorities dismiss Belamaric. The center said that failing to do so "will indicate that Ustashe nostalgia is perfectly legitimate in today's Croatian school system".

In response, Croatian Education Minister Pavo Barisic said he would propose to both sides that they agree how to salvage the "essence" of the exhibition.

"We believe that students should be able to see it, and for it to be freed of all conflictual content," he was quoted as telling the state news agency HINA.

Nenadovic, the exhibition coordinator who is Croatian, said she was "horrified" by Barisic's statement.

"There is absolutely nothing contentious in our panels. We do not falsify history, nor do we deny it."

(Writing by Matt Robinson; editing by Mark Heinrich)

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