Croatian Schoolbooks Teach ‘One-Sided History’ of Wartime Victory

On August 5, Croatia marks its Victory and Homeland Thanksgiving Day and the Day of Croatian Defenders with an annual celebration in the southern town of Knin.

Knin has a strong symbolic relevance because, on that day in 1995, Croatian soldiers and President Franjo Tudjman raised the Croatian flag at the fortress in the town, which had been the capital of rebel Croatian Serbs' unrecognised wartime statelet, the Republic of Serbian Krajina.

Serbia, on the other hand, is holding a ceremony to mourn the victims - Croatian Serbs who were killed during and after the operation.

All Croatian schoolchildren learn about the victory in Operation Storm, which saw the government reassert control over territory held by the rebels and led to the end of the war for independence - but few are taught about the Serb civilian victims who were killed during and just after the operation, or the many Serbs who left Croatia in its aftermath.

Domagoj Svigir, a history teacher at a primary school in Kutina, said that it is rare that textbooks, with a few exceptions, state the facts about the large number of Serbs who fled Croatia after Storm and the military offensive that preceded it in May 1995, Operation Flash.

"I would like to emphasise that it is not only about the Serbs who left after the [military] actions, but also about those who remained and were victims of war crimes. In the textbooks, you will find almost nothing or very little about that," Svigir said.

'Several cases of criminal behaviour'

A war-damaged house that belonged to a Serb in Croatia. Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Petar Milosevic.

During Operation Storm, Croatian forces regained territory controlled since late 1991 by rebel Croatian Serbs, who had been...

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