Thursday, 6 May 2010

To MacNeil-Lehrer News Hour - by Jerry Blaskovich

MacNeil-Lehrer News Hour
3620 S. 27th St. Arlington, VA 22206

October 9, 1992
Dear Mr. MacNeil,

The commentary regarding the Yugoslav story of October 6, 1992 was genuinely astonishing and demands a rebuttal. What was truly surprising is that you allowed a narrator, without a hint of skepticism on your part, to guide the audience through a minefield of inaccuracies and historical manipulations. It would be an understatement to say that your stance was not in keeping with your program's usual high journalistic standard.

Introducing the commentary, you alluded to Yugoslavia's "long-standing ethic struggle." This cliché, which has been permeating unquestioningly from the media should be laid to rest since is contrary to fact. Prior to 1918, there has been a remarkable peaceful symbiosis between the Serbs and Croats. All battles waged in the territory now called Yugoslavia were between the Christians (Roman Catholic) and the Muslim Ottoman Empire—none were considered ethnic.

Once the disparate nationalities were cobbled into a kingdom after the First World War, the Serbs imposed a tyrannical rule. To support their position, the Serbs favored terrorist methods that included assassination of Croatian delegates in the Yugoslav parliament in Belgrade. (I've enclosed a reprint from a November 11, 1934 Chicago Tribune article, which describes Croatian grievances that could well have been voiced in 1989). The Serbian repression gave birth to the Ustashe, a radical Croatian group, which culminated in the first armed conflict between the two nationalities during World War II.(1) After the war the nationalities lived side by side, until the demagoguery of Milosevic divided Yugoslavia along ethnic lines.

Milosevic rekindled nationalism by whipping up a myth¬ology that is believed by the Serbs and continues to inflame a pathological, hysterical hatred toward the Croats.(2) For example, Goran Mikic, a Reuters reporter made world headlines with his story, that he witnessed 41 Serbian children who were slaughtered by the Croats. He related the gory details on Serbian television, but a day later he admitted that the story was a hoax. However, his retraction did not appear in Serbia, but his allegations are still being quoted.

The narrator emphasized Ustashe atrocities during World War II, but was conspicuously silent about Chetnik crimes that were greater in scope. It should be noted that the Ustashe were comprised of radical exiles and its government was a Nazi puppet state analogous to Vichy and Quisling governments of France and Norway. In contrast, Serbia had a legitimate government who retained significant civilian authority and openly collaborated with the Nazis. Harald Turner, Chief Nazi Civil Administrator for Serbia, proudly proclaimed that Serbia was the only country in which the Jewish question "was solved."(3) Additionally, Belgrade was the first city called "Judenfrei." After the war, the Chetnik leader, Drazen Mihaljevic, was tried and convicted as a Nazi collaborator. The report stating that the Ustashe killed 700,000 Serbs was grossly inflated. A figure of 346,740 was reported to German federal government in 1964 by the Yugoslav government, who had inflated the figure to extract war reparations. The number includes those who died of the hands of Germans, Partisans, Luftwaffe and allied bombings, Soviets, and diseases such as typhus and typhoid, which were endemic. The figure is in agreement with published scholarly works on the subject. (4) The narrator lamented that Serbia lost territory under communist Yugoslavia. The architects of this so called lost territory were Tito, a Slovene-Croat; Milovan Djilas, a Montenegrin; and two Serbs--Alexander Rankovic and Moshe Pijade. The Serbian 'loss' of Kosovo and Vojvodina does not hold water, since these 'autonomous' areas had been and are still under direct Serbian control.

The narrator raised an issue that the Croatian flag was modeled on the Ustashe flag and waving it strikes fear in the hearts of Serbs. The Croatian flag is not an Ustashe flag. The Croatian flag's symbol is the traditional coat of arms dating from the medieval period and is prominently dis-played on the tile roof of a medieval church in Zagreb dating from that period. It must be noted that the 'flag waving' that the narrator was so fearful have occurred only on Croatian territory. Why waving a flag causes such consternation is irrational. There has never been an instance in history that Croatia had territorial aspirations for Serbian territory.

Your narrator's thesis that a puppet government in German occupied Croatia over 50 years ago and ethnic rivalry could dictate the actions of the communist Yugoslav govern today is ludicrous. Jeri Laber, Executive Director of Helsinki Watch succinctly stated: "...the ethnic wars in the Balkans are not, as many want to believe, the results of age aM hostilities long suppressed by the communist...they are the result of a relentless propaganda campaign, aimed at stirring of old tensions engineered by Serbia's irresponsible power mad leader, Milosevic."

The Serbs disingenuously excused their aggression as an effort to keep Yugoslavia from breaking apart, than they changed their tune as an effort to protect ethnic Serbs living in Croatia. They now justify their attack on Bosnia to protect Europe from the Islamic fundamentalism.

Portraying the Serbs as victims is ludicrous since all the destruction and deaths have only been in Croatia and Bosnia. Not a shot was fired in anger in Serbia during this war. The narrator glossed over the destruction of Catholic churches, mosques, and historical buildings, many of which were designated by UNESCO as cultural monuments, including the city of Dubrovnik. The Serb policy of ethnic cleansing, which is analogous to the "final solution" by Nazi Germany, rampant human rights violations in Kosovo, and abominable treatment of prisoners in the concentration camps were not mentioned.

Internationally monitored elections in spring 1990, Croatia elected a non-communist government, while Serbia renewed a communist position in their parliament in December 1990. After all efforts by Croatia to become a confederation failed, Croatia exercised its right to secede, as set forth in the first sentence of Yugoslav constitution. Serbia, using the Yugoslav army, unleashed their attack.

The definition of war is combatants fighting each other, but facts are that it is an army with all modern weapons of this disposal fighting mostly unarmed civilians whose supreme motivation is to defend its own land where the war is being waged.

Since the one-sided perspective that appeared on your program and so obviously biased, I am suspicious the report was financed by Serbian interests. If you investigate and it confirms my suspicions, I will consider future reports on your program to lack credibility and journalism at its worse.


(1) "From a historical perspective, this area experienced little ethnic violence prior to the 20th century and never witnessed the vicious religious wars as seen in Western Europe." V.P. Gagnon: Prospects for Stability; Foreign Affairs (Summer 1991) p.31.
(2) Some examples that the Serb used to ferment anti-Croatian feelings were: " The Croats were building concentration camps for five hundred thousand ethnic Serbs; driven thousands of Serbs living in Croatia from their homes and jobs; uncovered a Vatican plot against Serb Orthodoxy; Austria and Germany were conspiring with Croatia to form a Fourth Reich." Carol J. Williams - Los Angeles Times Magazine (November 24, 1991) The Last Days of Yugoslavia--Los Angeles Times Magazine p. 26-32
(3) Politika, Belgrade, April 29, 1989. Raul Hilberg: The Destruction of the European Jews. (Vol.2, New York: Holmes and Meier, 1985) p. 692
(4) Dr. Bogoljub Kocovic, "Zrtve drugog svetskog rata u jugoslaviji" (Victims of WW II in Yugoslavia); London, 1985. Vladimir Zerjavic, "Gubici stanovnistva Jugoslavije u drugom svjetskon ratu" (Yugoslav population losses in WW II); Yugoslavia Victimological Society, in cooperation with the Zagreb Jewish Community, 1989

From the book: Croatia Uncensored by Jerry Blaskovich M.D.
(c) Jerry Blaskovich. Published here by permission from the author.
No further re-publication is authorised.
Publicado aquí por permiso especial del autor. No se autoriza su ulterior re-publicación
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