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Croatia – Exhibiting Memory and History at the “Shores of Europe”

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Author(s): Ljiljana Radonic

Journal: Culture Unbound : Journal of Current Cultural Research
ISSN 2000-1525

Volume: 3;
Start page: 355;
Date: 2011;
Original page

Keywords: Politics of the Past | “Europeanization of the Holocaust” | Croatia | Jasenovac | “Negative Memory"

ABSTRACT
Even though the self-critical dealing with the past has not been an official criteria for joining the European union, the founding of the Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance, and Research and the Holocaust-conference in Stockholm at the beginning of 2000 seem to have generatedinformal standards of confronting and exhibiting the Holocaust during the process called “Europeanization of the Holocaust”. This is indicated by the fact that the Holocaust Memorial Center in Budapest opened almost empty only weeks before Hungary joined the European Union although the permanent exhibition had not been ready yet. The Croatian case, especially the new exhibition that opened at the KZ-memorial Jasenovac in 2006, will serve in order to examine how the “Europeanization of the Holocaust” impacts on a candidate state. The memorial museum resembles Holocaust Memorial Museums in Washington, Budapest etc., but, although it is in situ, at the site of the former KZ, the focus clearly lies on individual victim stories and their belongings, while the perpetrators and the daily “routine” at the KZ are hardly mentioned. Another problem influenced by the international trend to focus on (Jewish) individuals and moral lessons rather than on the historical circumstances is that the focus on the Shoa blanks the fact that Serbs had been the foremost largest victim group. The third field, where the influence of “European standards” on the Croatian politics of the past will be examined, is the equalization of “red and black totalitarianism” at the annual commemorations in Jasenovac. While this was already done during the revisions era of President Franjo Tudman during the 1990, today it perfectly matches EU-politics, as the introduction of the 23rd of August, the anniversary of the Hitler-Stalin-pact, as a Memorial day for both victims of Nazism and Stalinism shows.

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