Commander of the second-largest concentration camp complex of World War II -- Croatia's Jasenovac -- passed away last week and received a burial in his homeland -- in full Nazi uniform, with full honors, and with a Catholic priest officiating. No media attention and therefore no public outrage is being devoted to the funeral of Dinko Sakic, a gruesome but not atypical occurrence in what is the Former Yugoslavia's frontrunner for EU membership -- Croatia. George W. Bush recently cited the country's picturesque coastline while hailing Croatia for "showing leadership in the cause of freedom." (See also "Cheney: US backs Croatia for joining NATO, EU".)
Hitler's most eager butchers were the Croatians -- whose singularly sadistic methods the German Nazis had to put a stop to because the situation was causing rebellions in occupied Yugoslavia. Croatia's fuehrer, Ante Pavelic -- who kept a bowl of Serbian eyes on his desk -- is revered to this day by mainstream Croatians, still proud of their one and only true identity -- as Ustasha (alternately spelled "Ustasa"). That is the name of the Nazi regime of the Hitler-bestowed Independent State of Croatia (known as "NDH" in the region). Only a couple news organizations had the story of the pro-Nazi burial with the Catholic bishop, starting with a Serbian-American website called Serbianna:
Croat death camp commander buried in Nazi gear
Croatian commander of the notorious WWII Nazi Ustasa concentration camp in Jasenovac, Dinko Sakic was buried in the full Ustasa uniform confirms Father Vjekoslav Lasic, Croatian Catholic priest.
Dinko Sakic and his wife Nada in Ustasa uniform.
"God has forgiven Sakic all that was not in sync with God's law, if he did anything like that," said Lasic at the funeral of Sakic.
Lasic said that he was proud to have seen Sakic dressed in the WWII Ustasa uniform while in Dubrava hospital where he died.
Father Vjekoslav Lasic at the Sakic burial in Zagreb, Croatia.
"Independent State of Croatia is the foundation of today's homeland of Croatia," said Lasic.
Ustasa were Croatian Nazis who declared Croatia independent and went on to kill over [a] million of Serbs, Jews and Roma in WWII. Killing was done in several concentration camps such as Jasenovac and Stara [G]radiska.
Croatians mourn the death of Sakic.
Dinko Sakic was commander of both concentration camps. Sakic's wife, Nada, was half sister of a notorious Croat murderer [named] Maks Luburic. After WWII, Sakic fled to Argentina where he opened a textile factory. Sakic was extradited to Croatia in 1998 where he was sentence[d] only 20 years for his crimes.
Video of Jasenovac and Stara Gradiska
Father Lasic who led the Catholic burial for Sakic held numerous masses in the past for the leader of the Ustasa Ante Pavelic.
"[E]very honorable Croat is proud of the name of Dinko Sakic," said Lasic at the funeral.
So far, the only outrage has come from the Simon Wiesenthal Center:
Jerusalem - The Simon Wiesenthal Center today called upon Croatian President Stjepan Mesić to condemn the organizers of the recent funeral of convicted Croatian mass murderer Dinko Sakić, the former commandant of the infamous Jasenovac concentration camp, for turning the event into a celebration of his Ustasha crimes. In a letter sent today by its chief Nazi-hunter, Israel director Dr. Efraim Zuroff to the Croatian president, the Center stressed the affront to all Ustasha victims and people of conscience the world over when a mass murderer is buried in his Ustasha uniform and praised by a priest as being "a model for all Croatians."
According to Zuroff:
"To the best of my knowledge, no public official of any significant stature has spoken out against this outrageous display of unrepentant racism, anti-Semitism and xenophobia. I therefore urge you, in your capacity as president of the republic and knowing full well your unqualified and unequivocal opposition to the crimes of the Ustasha, to publically [sic] condemn the organizers of the funeral and the priests who conducted it.
"Under these circumstances what Croatian society needs is a clear and unequivocal reminder that Dinko Sakic was a mass murderer and brought shame to the Croatian people, that one of democratic Croatia's greatest achievements was his prosecution and punishment, and that only by totally repudiating the legacy of the NDH [Independent State of Croatia 1941-1945] and its fanatic Ustasha extremists will Croatia become a welcome member of NATO and the European Union."
Thanks to a fax from the Wiesenthal Center about this, the AP reported on the Center's reaction to the funeral:
ZAGREB, Croatia (AP) -- The funeral of a former Nazi concentration camp commander was used to celebrate his crimes, a Jewish human rights group said Tuesday and urged Croatia's president to investigate.
Dinko Sakic's funeral was an "outrageous display of unrepentant racism, anti-Semitism and xenophobia," the Simon Wiesenthal Center's Israeli branch director, Efraim Zuroff, said in a letter addressed to President Stipe Mesic and faxed to The Associated Press.
Sakic died at age 87 on July 20 while serving 20 years in prison for war crimes he committed as head of the notorious Jasenovac camp, the worst of about 40 camps run by the then Nazi puppet regime of Croatia.
Mesic said in a statement that he has repeatedly condemned Nazi crimes, including Sakic's...Sakic was buried wearing the uniform of the Ustasha, the local pro-Nazi movement, according to the Croatian daily Vecernji. It said a priest called Sakic a "model for all Croatians."
The funeral was private, attended by family and several minor right-wing politicians...Tens of thousands of Serbs, Jews, Gypsies and anti-fascist Croats were killed in Jasenovac.
The Catholic priest's blessing of a Nazi is not unique to very recent history. The Vatican has a distinct problem acknowledging its Nazi affiliations, particularly in Croatia. Even the late Pope John Paul II blasphemed history in 1998 when he beatified Cardinal Alojzije (Aloysius) Stepinac, the Croatian Fuehrer's cardinal who led the Croatian Catholic Church in WWII:
Fascist Croatia's fathers and leaders: Ante Pavelic on the far left and Roman Catholic Archbishop Aloysius Stepinac, on the far right.
Pope John Paul II, surrounded by Roman Catholic clergy, praying in front of the remains of Aloysius Stepinac, responsible for the religious-purification genocide of Serbs, Jews and Gypsies. (Photos thanks to Byzantine Sacred Art blog)
The funeral occurred the same week that a Croatian who killed a New York police officer and hijacked a TWA flight in 1976 was released from a U.S. prison after serving 32 years. He returned a hero, and to the singing embrace of Croatia's most popular rocker, profiled last year in the NY Times, Marko "Thompson" Perkovic:
Croatia gave a hero's welcome to "independence fighter" Zvonko Busic, who returned home after serving 32 years in a US prison for a 1976 plane hijacking and a bombing that killed a New York policeman. Some 500 people with banners and flags sang songs as they greeted Busic at the airport in Zagreb, the Croatian capital.
"This is the happiest day of my life. If each of you could feel one per cent of the joy I feel, Croats would be the happiest nation in the world," he said after arriving in Croatia on Thursday night.
Busic, 62, was greeted by rock singer and Croatian ultra-nationalist icon Marko Perkovic, aka Thompson, and the crowd broke into songs associated with the Ustasha, Croatia's Nazi puppet government during World War II.
"Please behave, don't act like a mob. Don't let me be ashamed of you," Busic said.
Busic was granted parole last week on a life sentence.
In the fall of 1976, Busic and a group of compatriots hijacked a US airliner to promote the independence for Croatia, then part of communist Yugoslavia.
Busic and the crew had only fake explosives strapped to their bodies, but they left a bomb at New York's Grand Central train station.
Busic surrendered to police in Paris after the plane landed, but the bomb in New York exploded while police were trying to disarm it. Yugoslavia extradited Busic to the United States for trial.
Croatia proclaimed independence in 1991, helping cause Yugoslavia's bloody breakup.
The Croatian daily Jutarnji List warned ecstatic Croats that Busic is not "an ideal man," but a terrorist.
"Because of his past, Busic should spend the rest of his life privately, out of any political or public context," commentator Davor Butkovic said in Friday's edition.
Apart from three former politicians who greeted Busic upon his arrival, Croatian officials didn't comment on his return.
Busi[c] planned to visit his hometown of Imotski, near the Adriatic port city of Split, whose citizens were organizing a celebration.
Zvonko Busic at the Zagreb airport addressed the masses: "If all Croats are happy as I am today, we'd be the happiest nation. There are no words in any language in this world that could express my today's feelings, my wishes and eternal gratitude to you all, my brother Croats and Croattes, that you came in such numbers. Your gathering proves legendary solidarity of Croats with their fighters and with their sacrifices." (Caption and photo by Serbianna.com)
New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly called Busic's parole "outrageous," as this AP item reports, adding the following details:
Zvonko Busic, 62, was welcomed at the airport by several hundred supporters, who consider him a national hero who fought for Croatia's independence from communist Yugoslavia long before it was achieved in 1991.
Busic led a group that hijacked a TWA jetliner in 1976 as it left New York's LaGuardia Airport. They forced the plane to fly to Montreal, London and Paris, planning to drop leaflets to draw attention to communist repression of national and religious beliefs.
Police finally shot out the plane's tires and persuaded the five -- who were not armed -- to surrender. But a bomb they stashed in a locker at New York's Grand Central Terminal exploded when police tried to defuse it, killing one officer and blinding another.
His supporters, many waving Croatian flags and singing patriotic songs, also were delighted.
The Croatian independence movement was about the Croatians getting their Hitler-bestowed Nazi state back, and they succeeded masterfully, as Croatians were able to enshroud their agenda in an anti-Communist context, just as the Bosnians and Albanians did subsequently. All received American, German and Vatican support -- morally, officially, financially, militarily -- against the Serbs.
It should be noted that -- unlike Serbs -- Croatians, Bosnians and Albanians have all committed terrorist acts against America, and every one of them duly received, and continues to receive, American support against the Serbs. It sends a very clear message about how to get America to take your side and do your bidding.
Here is a useful log of Croatian terrorism against the U.S. in the 1970s, compiled by Andy Wilcoxson, an analyst of the Milosevic trial. This month Croatia got the green light for NATO admission, with U.S. blessing of course.
On the subject of Busic's hometown near Split -- where travel-book displays also offer Mein Kampf -- the daily "Slobodna Dalmacija" (Free Dalmatia) reported on some "colorful" tattoos that could be seen at Zrce (the country's most popular "party resort", often called "Croatian Ibiza"). The photos below are of tattoos depicting Ustasha fuehrer Pavelic, and the map of his WW2 Croatia (with SS helmets, just so there's no confusion):
Instead of even noticing real, current-day Nazism -- not "neo-Nazism" but the original thing, seeded in the hearts of the very Nazis' progeny -- the world reserves its unequivocal condemnation for those who refused to live, yet again, under the Croatian Nazis that once killed their entire families, and therefore reacted to an act of war with war. That is what is meant by the line from the first Busic report above: "Croatia proclaimed independence in 1991, helping cause Yugoslavia's bloody breakup." Hundreds of thousands of Serbs lived in Croatia, and when Croatians decided to secede illegally, the Serb-heavy Krajina region within its borders chose to stay within Yugoslavia rather than within Hitler's revived state. THAT -- and not America's current fixation, Radovan Karadzic -- is what started the war.
So this month we've had the conviction of a Bosnian-Muslim butcher overturned; we've had a Croatian terrorist released and a Croatian Nazi buried with honors; we've also had a warm and historic meeting at the White House between the American president and unprosecuted Albanian terrorists, mafia bosses and war criminals who were receiving help from bin Laden while receiving help from us in the 90s. But fear not: the Karadzic trial -- while revealing reprehensible war crimes that nonetheless pale in comparison to the ignored war crimes against Serbs -- will renew yet again the world's contempt for everything Serbian.
HuffPost Politics brings you the top political stories three days a week. Learn more