Zagreb’s Holocaust Memorial Obscures WWII Crimes in Croatia

As Bandic explained, Jews had to pack their entire lives into a single suitcase, which was then taken from them. The memorial, he said, was an attempt to keep the memory of their stolen humanity alive.

Although this seemingly elaborate and potentially visually impressive memorial sounds appropriate and respectful to the victims of the Holocaust, the massive wall of suitcases cannot stop problematic issues seeping through every crack in it.

First, although a Holocaust memorial initiative coming from outside the Jewish community is usually a sign of a healthy society, this represents an exemption. Bandic got the idea from a circle including the Croatian President Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic and Hollywood producer Branko Lustig, a man who survived Auschwitz.

However, contradictory to custom, Bandic never consulted the Croatian Jewish community, which struggles to preserve the memory of the Holocaust in the country with almost no Jews left alive - 509 according to the 2011 census.

In the same way, without any consultations or consent from the Jewish communities, Bandic is working on a planned Museum of the Holocaust. His only partner in this commemorative journey is Lustig, a man who really has committed his life to promoting the truth of the Holocaust, producing Steven Spielberg's 'Schindler's List' in the process.

Lustig is also a person who signed a petition against the Bandic's arrest in 2015, saying that he was "impelled" to do so "in the name of six million vanished in the Holocaust". Lustig also became a member of the Zagreb City Assembly on Bandic's list.

The second and the much bigger reason why this monument is problematic is its almost complete detachment from the local and national historical context.

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