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LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Modern, 1940s-era Croatia share traits

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Jeffrey Kuhner is to be commended for accurately describing the "Nazi regime led by the odious Ante Pavelic and his sadistic Ustashes" which "systematically killed hundreds of thousands of Serbs, Jews, Gypsies (Roma) and anti-fascist Croatians" ("Myth of Croatian fascism," Commentary, Nov. 25). However, Mr. Kuhner's attempt to convince us that present-day Croatia's connection to the fascist Ustashe of World War II is just a myth lacks credibility.

It is no myth that Croatians greeted German troops with their right arms raised in a Nazi salute as they chanted "Heil Hitler," as reported in The Washington Times in 1997. According to a story of that year, "Mobs chased minorities from their homes, kicking them and pelting them with eggs as they fled into the woods. Europe in the 1940? No, Croatia in the 1990s."

Around the same time, Newsweek reported that when German tanks passed through Croatia as part of the NATO deployment to the Balkans, "Croatians greeted the Germans with the straight-armed fascist salute," an expression of solidarity dating back to the alliance between Croatian fascists and the Nazis.

Croatia is once again flying the same fascist checkerboard flag that it flew in 1941, when Hitler recognized Croatia as an independent nation for being his loyal ally. Ironically, the map of the Balkans drawn by Hitler in 1942 is almost identical to today's map of the Balkans created by NATO.

As A.M. Rosenthal wrote in "Back From the Grave" in the New York Times on April 15, 1997: "In World War II, Hitler had no executioner more willing, no ally more passionate, than the Fascists of Croatia. They are returning, 50 years later, from what should have been their eternal grave, the defeat of Nazi Germany. The Western allies who dug that grave with the bodies of their servicemen have the power to stop them, but do not."

No more brutal and graphic evidence that Croatia's Nazi past is alive and well was the Croatian army's Operation Storm in 1995, when more than 200,000 Serbs were ethnically cleansed from the Krajina region of Croatia. Thousands of Serbs who did not flee, mostly elderly men and women, were exterminated in true Nazi fashion.

Mr. Kuhner attempts to sweep under the rug modern-day Croatia's fascist propensities but this degrades the Serbs, our World War II allies.

STELLA L. JATRAS

Camp Hill, Pa.

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