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Jasenovac and photo falsification


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In Yugoslavian, Croatian history books, and history books, world-wide, there have been many texts accompanied by photos written about the Jasenovac camp from 1941-1945. Since the number of authentic photos about the camp is quite small, after the war, the Yugoslavian authorities proceeded to work on falsyfing these photos. The first of these efforts are now the „well-known“ and „recognized“ (so-called) Jasenovac Photographs, which are now in the sub-conscious of many people.
By Tomislav Vuković

Published in: News & Politics
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Jasenovac and photo falsification

  1. 1. 1 JASENOVAC AND PHOTO FALSIFICATION Manipulation on photographs from the Jasenovac Camp in forming public opinion. By Tomislav Vuković In Yugoslavian, Croatian history books, and history books, world-wide, there have been many texts accompanied by photos written about the Jasenovac camp from 1941-1945. Since the number of authentic photos about the camp is quite small, after the war, the Yugoslavian authorities proceeded to work on falsyfing these photos. The first of these efforts are now the „well-known“ and „recognized“ (so-called) Jasenovac Photographs, which are now in the sub-conscious of many people. The statement by the former Zagreb, Archbishop Alojzije Stepinac about the Jasenovac concentration camp, „It is a shameful scar on the independent state of Croatia and the abominable events occuring there are a crime which shouts to heaven.“ One need nothing more or less to add. The killing of the innocent only because of their nationality, religion or ideological conviction cannot in any way be justified, since „all people and every race have a right to human dignity“, the archbishop emphasized. It is understood that from this deep religious viewpoint, human dignity is itself rooted in the Creator, so that the archbishop's question on this matter as expected, is expressed in this manner: „if God has given everyone this pre-rogative, what human power has the right to deny it?“ In the same way, the archbishop calls to mind that „the Catholic Church in each and every way to this very day, is against injustice and violence in the name of class, race or ideological viewpoint.“ (All quotes are derived from Aleksa Beningar's book, „Alojzije Stepinac, hrvatski kardinal“, Glas Koncila i Hrvatska franjevačka provincija sv. Ćirila i Metoda, 2. popravljeno i prošireno izdanje, Zagreb, 1993 [„Alojzije Stepinac, Croatian cardinal“, the second improved and extended edition, ed. Glas Koncila and the Croatian Franciscan province of the holy Kyrillos and Methodius Zagreb. 1993]). „Sed magis amica veritas!“ At the beginning of this article regarding on the falsification of photographs of the Jasenovac camp, it is noteworthy to cite the recently published book of Nataša Mataušić, „Jasenovac – fotomonografija“ (Spomen-područje Jasenovac, 2008.) („Jasenovac – Photo Monography' Jasenovac Memorial, 2008), in which thoroughly new facts have been brought to light about the „well-known“ and „recognized“ photographs, which were impressed in the minds of many people. For more than six decades, they have served as a manipulation of the Jasenovac victims. To be sure, the declaration by an author of scientific integrity and courage deserves to be praised because she has not only done much work correcting in the Institute
  2. 2. 2 in which she is employed-the Jasenovac Memorial, but also every task in which she herself has been involved in-the „Jasenovac Memorial Site“, working along with a numerous group of well-known authors from the year 2006 such as Dr. Božo Biškupić, Dr. Ivo Goldstein, Dr. Tvrtko Jakovina, Dr. Drago Roksandić and others. On all this matter, she must do a lot of research, each for herself searching for the truth in her research, making her principal aim to illustrate her point. She proves how quite a number of photos which are usually linked to the camp and have never been questioned, but actually have nothing to do with Jasenovac. There is no question that Jasenovac was „a place of execution where crimes against humanity were carried out by some human beings against others“, as has been written in the corresponding text of Nataša Jovičić, the head oft he Jasenovac Memorial, (Mataušić, ibid. p. 230). Thus, in regard to this task without debasing Aristotle's famous saying. „Amicus Plato, sed magis amica veritas!“ („Plato is my friend, but the truth is a better friend!“). She has analyzed and compared 120 photographs for two years which were stated to have originated from Jasenovac and from the entire archive material from the Jasenovac Memorial, of the Croatian State archives as well as fully researched from the Croatian History Museum. From the photo presentation is how the Ustasha - government authorities accomplished their propaganda aims, anonymous individuals during the war years at a clear (reasonable) distance and the post war commission to reveal the crimes oft he occupiers and their assistants. The most intriguing photos which were falsified with the aim of tying them to the concentration camp (although they were taken in a totaly different place) moreover retouched, photo montaged or showing a single part, giving the impression that they are completely new and authentic photographs. It has to be said openly that after World War II many well-known authors tried to stir up hate and anger toward the ideological enemy (the anti-communists), toward an entire people (the Croats) and toward the idea of an independent Croatian state. In light of the recent aggression against the Croatian Republic by Serbia, the photo falsification have also been „a unique abuse oft he memory oft he crime (not the victims) becomes a seed for the justification of a newly planted crime“, as written in the epilogue by Ms Jovičić, the head oft he Jasenovac Memorial. „The Girls Suspected Nothing“ These authors often do not feel necessary at all to make these photographs a relevant historical document, that is to say, as critical and methodical, to, at least at a minimum, show the necessary details of the documentation of the area, the admission of the people beeing brought in, the person who took the photos, or something similar; rather they gave the photo arbitrary meaning within the context that it corresponds to. As an example on this point is one of the better known photographs in which alleged farmers are shown beeing executed in the Glina Orthodox Church, without giving regard to the fact a crime ever occured there. By comparing the iconostase it was determined and unrevealed that this incident in no way took place in the Glina Church, but actually has do with, the Bosanska Dubica church, again without any single relevant proof. If at some time there would be a comparsion of the interior oft he church and its iconostase oft he former Bosanska Dubica church, that the declaration oft his event did not occur (which after the current stipulation would be more than probable), than it is again to be expected that a complete and new allocation of the photographs and a new crime in another orthodox
  3. 3. 3 church occurs. The question presents itself, is there in any way to make sense for this kind of falsification where the hatred isn't scientifically stopped? When one leafs through the books about the Jasenovac camp, for example, three young girls sitting in a idyllic setting dressed in native costumes are pushing each other as they are chatting cheerfully and nonchalantly under a bright sun in a meadow. It is not indicated where the photo was taken nor who the girls are (the costume can be judged to be from Rutheninen from Ukrainian Užgorod, or Croatians from Schafendorf in the southern part of Austria). Nor do we know wenn the photo was taken (judging from the black and white setting, the photo could have originated in the post war period), there is no information about what happened to these girls at the end. The text below the photo, nevertheless is very „convincing“. „They had no suspicions about what Ustashas were preparing!“ This is then a declaration of a twisted manipulation of a pefectly „nuetral“ and genuinely „harmless“ picture. The Description primarily brings deceit The author Mataušić wrote about this veritable controversy on the photographs in a valuable historical document saying that they are also a source of manipulation: „The photographs document in an extraordinary way in an open and direct manner, the real event, representation, openess and viewpoint of a particular reality. They contain the entire value of a historical document, above all, when they are totally complete through critically established facts within their components.“ (Mataušić, Ibid. p. 17). But in the same manner: „'A photo doesn't lie is an often expressed cliché' to stress that an original and objective representation of a reality as seen through the camera and everything that was present during the procedure is reality. However, it should not be forgotten that one has to consider the fact that such photos can be only a part of an objective reality, that behind the person's lens (Objektiv) is the subjective interpretation that he sees. In the selection of details oft his reality he makes his own interpretation to represent his view of the possible settings around him. The photographer can reveal but can also distort. He can be a source of truth but can serve as a means of deception depending upon the intent he has. Manipulation with the photo medium for the purpose of forming a particular opinion is not anything new, especially when dealing with photos during a critical time – in a war period where the idea 'truth' is according formulated by the interests of a particular circle of people. The photographs in themselves cannot lie but can serve as a means of deceit. Through the direct intervention of the photos themselves (they can be falsified by a brush, be retouched, or be cropped by a pair of scissors), thus making their interpretation controversial, mostly resulting in deceit. The same photograph through the type of intervention described, has now a totally different meaning.“ (Mataušić, Ibid. p. 17- 18). Four of five titles are falsified From the selection of only a small part of titles (it is the accounts from sixty books in Croatian, Serbian, English, German, French and Slovenian and from ten Internet sites in Serbian, English, German and Spanish) where one can work directly with the controversy of the Ustasha-camps in Jasenovac and Stara Gradiška, and easily come to the conclusion that
  4. 4. 4 the great majority accompanied by photos (almost 80%, which means four of five titles), contain falsifications on all their pages! From the year 2000 exactly 2396 works have been published dealing with some relevant research on the Jasenovac Ustasha camp, that is to say 1,106 books, 1,482 memorials and scientific articles and 108 collections of documents. After 2000 the intensity of books printed about the Jasenovac camp has not decreased, so that today a precise number of published works is unknown. To be sure, they exceed the fore-mentioned numbers. Relevant to this matter, numerous books have appeared in Croatian as well as other foreign languages, even Latin and Cyrillc. Furthermore, there are six series of continuing of the article with the famous photos of which the majority are not related in any way to Jasenovac concentration camp, as Ms Mataušić, the co-worker at the Jasenovac Memorial has precisely proven in her book. For example, the photo: „The Ustashas from Jasenovac killed their victims with an ax“ – in reality on June 11, 1944 there are clearly visible uniformed SS members of the Prinz Eugen Division, killing an unknown partisan of the Vojkova-Brigade in the region of Idrijska Krnica (department oft he documentary photographs oft he Slovenian Museum of Modern History); the photo: „They did what no one else had done“ – in reality the uniforms are clearly recognized with a group of German soldiers, in which one of them with a smile on his face, holds a whip with an ax toward the neck of a man; the photo: „Heads oft he prisoners in Gradina“ – Two decapitated male heads, one of the heads with a cigarette in an open mouth – in reality, it was the IX Partisan Corps who found this photo in which was witnessed a German crime in a village north of Triest. Or the often used photo of an alleged representation of a crime with lined bodies in a row as if it were about „Death in Jasenovac“ and civilians which were held. This is nothing but a pure cover-up. The photo shows the massacred dead by partisans in the city of Sisak where they killed 400 civilians as they marched through this city. Victims at the Service of Political Propaganda The list of names with ca. 650,000 victims from Jasenovac is established in the „kitchen“ of the Jasenovac Research Institute in New York, in which we find Milan Bulajić, a diplomat of many years from the former Yugoslavia. Lucian Brumnjak from Mošćenice for example has himself found 378 cases whose names in the list are falsely allocated to Jasenovac. Many died or were killed somwhere else or there were Tchetniks and Partisans as well as some Ustachas who were also counted, who died in war action elswhere or people who died in the Egyptian refugee camp El Shatt and other places. Many refugees were sent to work camps in Germany and Norway. The same thing happened when the citizenry of Croatia attempted to research the official list, putting their study under the microscope. The current official list of names of victims (83,145) from the Jasenovac concentration camp is also controversial. The reason lies simply from not having found the bodies after extensive excavations. To be further considered is the absolutely ridiculous list of names from the Jasenovac Research Institute in New York compiled by the former Yugoslavian diplomat from the greater Serbian area of Belgrade. The fact is that the current list of names in the Jasenovac Memorial is 83,145 victims and in the New York has been
  5. 5. 5 reduced from 1,200,000 victims, then 700,000 to 650,000 shows us the scientific and professional seriousness of the Serbian character's intentions with regard to genocide. Today, the list of names in the New York JRI is not even taken seriously by the Jasenovac Memorial administrators. The number of victims could finally be determined if the files of the prisoners would be located from the extensive books of evidence which are in existence but have been hidden. Why? In 197l, there was a television broadcast presented from the former Zagreb television about the concentration camp and the number of victims. The question presents itself whether this television broadcast of 1971 still exists in the Croatian television archives. Let us together then summarize: basied on calculating the number of prisoners which in the entire time of the concentration camp's existence (45 months) with about 18,500 people passing through (basied from the books of evidence presented 1971 on the televison broadcast) at a yearly capacity of 3000 prisoners in the camp along the lines of technical literature, proves that the declarations made are a manipulation and deceit in numbers of victims. Altogether, in the excavations in Jasenovac, 284 skeletons have been found and to this day, that is the only empirical certainty! Perhaps the reason is because of the great Serbian lies which are present to this day. A well-known Serbian writer and politician named Dobrica Cosić explained in his book „Deobe“ why Great Serbs lie: „We lie to deceive ourselves, to console others, we lie for mercy, we lie to fight fear, to encourage ourselves, to hide our and somebodys else's misery. Lying is a trait of our Patriotism and the proof of our innate intelligence. We lie creatively, imaginatively and inventively.“ Serbs regard Dobrica Cosić as the „Father oft he Serbian Nation.“ The Jasenovac concentration camp is the biggest great Serbian and communist myth, with the present Croatian media serve through parrot-like repetition of this dogmatic communist pattern, instead of working to get closer and become more critical on this topic. In historical science and in the education of the younger generation, it is wasteful, and in today's Croatia it is present and profitable. The mentioned facts about the Jasenovac concentration camp (falsification of photos and controversies over the number of victims) can be understood for themselves , the evil of of Jasenovac as a terrible scar in the history of Croatia can never be justified. For this reason, it is necessary to have a new and serious systematic investigation that is objective and open, on the historical facts, removed from any ideology and ready to tackle with the subject of Jasenovac and its annual commemoration.