|December 30, 2002
WIESENTHAL CENTER WELCOMES APOLOGY BY YUGOSLAV HOLOCAUST HISTORIAN
The Simon Wiesenthal Center today welcomed an apology made by Yugoslav Holocaust historian Dr. Milan Bulajic regarding charges against Jewish inmates of the Jasenovac concentration camp which he published in a study he wrote on the infamous Croatian concentration camp, known as "the Auschwitz of the Balkans. "In a book published in 1989,but unknown in the West until recently, Bulajic published testimony from Serbian inmates of the camp who were forced to testify before the Nazi collaborationist administration in Belgrade that Jewish inmates ran the notorious concentration camp and even were involved in the murder of Serb inmates. Bulajic published the testimonies in his book Ustaski zlocina genocida (Genocidal Crimes of the Ustasha), without indicating that the witnesses involved had previously indicated that the Jews in Jasenovac generally tried to help the Serb inmates but were forced to alter their testimony.
Bulajic, who was the opening speaker at an international conference being held this week at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem under the twin titles of "Jasenovac-the Anatomy of Neglected Concentration Camps" and "The Holocaust From the Perspective of the 21st Century," faced demands from the Center's Israel Director Dr. Efraim Zuroff and Holocaust survivors from Yugoslavia headed by author Jenny Lebel to apologize for publishing the false testimonies in his book as if they were reliable evidence which reflected on all the Jewish inmates in Jasenovac. Bulajic did so at the conclusion of a dramatic conference session in which Zuroff told the Yugoslav historian, with whom he had worked together in bringing Croatian Nazi war criminals to justice, that he would no longer view him as a legitimate partner, nor would he continue his participation in the conference, unless an apology was made publicly at the conference. Bulajic thereupon apologized indicating his failure to present the testimonies in their historical context in his book.
Zuroff explained that Bulajic's step was critical and that now the material could be properly understood and evaluated. "Bulajic's apology is extremely significant since he finally placed these testimonies in their proper historical context. Bulajic has done many positive things as a Holocaust scholar and it would be a shame if this incident were to ruin his record and prevent the Wiesenthal Center from continuing our productive cooperation with him."
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