Our investigation of Srebrenica points to some very important insights concerning Jasenovac. Jasenovac, for those who are unfamiliar with it, was a death camp in the Nazi satellite “Independent State of Croatia” during World War II, also known as the “Auschwitz of the Balkans.” What is the link?
It is that while the massacre in Srebrenica, arising from the conflict which took place in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s, was engineered primarily to serve political purposes, it also had another extremely important consequence. That was to shift attention away from the genocide in Jasenovac suffered by the Serbian, Jewish, and Roma people trapped during World War II in the “Independent State of Croatia”. One of the chief impacts of Srebrenica was to diminish the magnitude and horror of Jasenovac by imputing to the Serbs an invented crime of genocidal proportions, allegedly committed by them during the Bosnian war.
Now, if one is looking for a mirror-image Jasenovac analogue for the iniquitous use of Srebrenica that was just mentioned, here it is. Jasenovac, and more broadly the heinous atrocities committed by the Croatian Ustashe during World War Two, were a key factor in London’s otherwise inexplicable switch from supporting their faithful ally General Mihailovich to installing the internationalist Josip Broz Tito, a person of obscure origin and equally obscure allegiances, as the post-war ruler of Yugoslavia. The British, and the Western alliance as a whole, critically needed the mass influence of the Roman Catholic Church for the anticipated post-war mobilization against the Left, and the perceived threat of the victorious and strengthened Soviet Union in particular. A Roman Catholic Church untainted by association with fascism and the genocidal atrocities committed by its followers in the heart of Europe was a sine qua non for that operation. Mihailovich’s victory assuredly would have led to exposure of this nefarious link and instant discreditation of the Vatican, on a scale that would dwarf the current scandals and would have rendered it useless as a moral authority in the projected crusade against communism. The patriot Mihailovich therefore had to be jettisoned and ideological chameleon Tito elevated in his place. It could safely be assumed that under Tito’s rule Jasenovac and all its implications would be swept under the rug, which is exactly what happened.
Ustasha Fascists conduct an execution at the Jasenovac camp. (Source: Wikipedia)
Srebrenica has been aggressively promoted as a meme suggesting Serb guilt for the commission of genocide, although the factual circumstances of this event, which our NGO has thoroughly researched and established, unequivocally refute that. On the other hand, while Jasenovac fully satisfies Convention on Genocide criteria for finding genocide, that event is being systematically underplayed in such a manner that knowledge about it is suppressed and respect for hundreds of thousands of its victims is scant.
What follows is a brief comparative analysis of these two events in order to demonstrate how a misleading narrative about a politically contrived genocide has obscured a genuine genocide and largely impeded proper respect for its victims.
Srebrenica fully fits in with the contemporary pattern of false flag operations where the actor who actually commits the crime skilfully shifts the responsibility onto the designated fall guy. The latter’s role is to be saddled with the blame, he is subjected to a brutal campaign of vilification, and ultimately takes the assigned political and moral punishment. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
To this day we do not have an official and reliable Srebrenica death toll. As judge Jean-Claude Antonetti pointed out in his dissenting opinion in the Tolimir case, after more than twenty years of “investigating” the Hague Tribunal has no clue of who conceived and ordered the crime. Srebrenica is plagued with uncertainties and deliberate obfuscations. The only items in the dubious Srebrenica narrative alleged to be unquestionable certainties are the two memes of “genocide” and “8,000 executed men and boys.” A powerful special interest propaganda machine has skillfully and perfidiously injected them into the mass subconscious.
The mechanism is driven by three fundamental political objectives. That agenda is behind the staging of Srebrenica killings and then utilizing their propaganda effects for base purposes. The first objective was to create a significant enough, inflatable and statistically elastic, mass slaughter incident, seemingly attributable to the Serbs, in July of 1995. That was on the eve of Operation Storm, set to be executed in the Krajina in August of 1995, using NATO logistics and Croatian ground forces. As Peter Galbraith, US ambassador to Zagreb at the time, freely admitted in 2012,
“without Srebrenica there would have been no Operation Storm.”
That strongly suggests, at a minimum, that the former might have been conceived and carried out to provide cover for the latter.
Another important secondary role of Srebrenica has been to serve as a symbolic construct, a nation building identity tool for cementing Bosnian Muslim ethnicity. The third and perhaps most momentous of the uses of Srebrenica – as Diana Johnstone would put it – is to serve as the underpinning for the lethal “Right to Protect” interventionist doctrine. It was constructed supposedly to ensure that there would be “no more Srebrenicas.” However, in practice this predatory doctrine has led to the pitiless destruction of several defenseless countries and the violent loss so far of at least two million innocent, mostly Muslim lives. R2P was designed to ensure hegemonic global control, not to prevent Srebrenica-style slaughter.
What follows is a quick overview of Srebrenica facts before I return to Jasenovac. The Srebrenica narrative is fraught with glaring anomalies which have gone largely unaddressed and unexamined critically.
1. On July 11, 1995, Srebrenica passed under the control of the Army of the Serb Republic. The Dutch battalion was also there, but it did nothing, acting mainly in an observer capacity.
2. After gaining control of Srebrenica, the Serbian Army evacuated to Muslim-held territory about 20,000 Muslims from Srebrenica – women, children, and elderly – who had gathered at the UN base in Potočari. The International Red Cross was present.
3. Simultaneously, men of military age, soldiers of the 28th Division of the Bosnian Muslim army, numbering between 12,000 and 15,000, well-armed and in a combative mood literally until the day before, suddenly and inexplicably lost their will to fight. Instead of putting up an active defense in a situation where they had a 3 to 1 numerical advantage over the Serb attackers and where the rugged configuration of the landscape clearly favored them, they conducted a risky breakout manoeuvre out of Srebrenica enclave toward Tuzla, on the other side of the front-line. The 60-kilometre-long corridor they had to traverse through Serb territory had been prior to that heavily mined and the retreating column also encountered numerous ambushes set up by the Serbian army. The 28th Division suffered its most massive casualties as a result of combat with the Zvornik Brigade of the Bosnian Serb Army, leaving between 4,000 and 5,000 dead. However, the 28th Division column was a legitimate military target, as admitted by the Prosecution of the Hague Tribunal, and therefore no one was ever charged or convicted by the Tribunal for causing it casualties. In the end, part of the retreating column were killed in combat, part reached Muslim lines in Tuzla, and part surrendered. It is important to point out that the remains of the majority of the putative “genocide victims” were found in the proximity of sites where there had been clashes between the Muslim column and the Serbian forces.
4. Of those who were taken prisoner, some were transferred to prisoner of war camps and some, apparently the majority unfortunately, were executed. A prominent role in the executions was played by the mysterious 10th Sabotage Detachment, an oddly multinational unit within the Bosnian Serb Army in the midst of an ethnic conflict, set up in 1994 for no apparent purpose and with no fixed position within the Serbian Army’s order of battle. The Detachment’s only significant operation turned out to be precisely the execution of Srebrenica prisoners in July of 1995. The famous “star witness” Dražen Erdemović, a condottiere of Croat ethnicity who fought in all three armies during the Bosnian conflict, and who ultimately became the Hague Tribunal’s sole witness to the executions after making a convenient plea bargain with the prosecution, was a member of that unit. What makes Erdemović exceptional is that he is simultaneously the Tribunal’s only witness and also an avowed perpetrator of genocide. He is also the beneficiary of an extraordinarily mild 3-year prison term for such a grave crime.
As debunked in detail by Bulgarian analyst Germinal Civikov, Erdemović testified contradictorily and unconvincingly that, during a five-hour period, he and seven other detachment colleagues executed 1,200 prisoners bussed in (he could not state even the approximate number of busses) to a field near a place called Branjevo. According to him, they shot the prisoners in groups of 10, which makes 120 groups and given his time frame leaves an improbable 2,5 minutes per group. During that time, the prisoners were walked a distance of 100 to 200 meters from the vehicles to the field of execution, they were searched and their personal documents and valuables were removed, the executions were carried out, and finally the victims were checked for any survivors, who were administered the coup de grace before bringing in the next group. All that in 2,5 minutes. According to Civikov this is a highly unlikely scenario, but the Hague Tribunal had no problems with it, and this scenario is incorporated lock-stock-and-barrel in all its Srebrenica judgments.
An oddity of this story is that Tribunal forensic experts, who in 1996 searched the site indicated by Erdemović, instead of 1,200 found the remains of 127 victims, of whom 70 had ligatures suggesting execution, a 90% reduction of Erdemović’s claimed total. Another oddity, if one wishes to view it as such, is the fact that the Hague Tribunal never sought nor indicted, much less questioned, Erdemović’s colleagues in the commission of the crime, Franc Kos, Stanko Kojić, Vlastimir Golijan to name some, whom Erdemović had identified at his first appearance in the Hague in 1996 and whose whereabouts was not a secret. Erdemović was never asked who issued the execution order. At present, he is living as a protected witness of the Hague Tribunal in an unidentified country and with a changed identity.
5. Thus, and this is another remarkable oddity of Srebrenica that the public are mostly unaware of, during a quarter of a century since the first Srebrenica indictment the Tribunal has managed to condemn to an insignificant sentence only one perpetrator of the alleged genocide – Dražen Erdemović. Every other Srebrenica defendant was found guilty and sentenced not for directly executing prisoners but based on concepts of “command responsibility” or “joint criminal enterprise”. The question of who ordered the physical liquidation of the prisoners remains glaringly unanswered to the present day.
6. Equally significant, most Hague Tribunal verdicts point to different figures, ranging from 4,970 to about 8,000, as the alleged number of “genocide victims.” Key facts are systematically brushed aside, such as that all those figures necessarily include combat casualties from the retreating 28th Division column, as mentioned previously, as well individuals who died or were killed in other ways in the Srebrenica enclave over the preceding three-year period. Thus, neither the Tribunal nor any other authority has to this day established even the approximate number of actual “genocide victims.”
7. The forensic picture of Srebrenica raises additional scepticism about the official Srebrenica narrative. We have analyzed every single one of the 3,568 autopsy reports and established that they contain the remains of 1,923 individuals based on the most reliable indicator, the number of paired femur bones. Based on the Prosecution’s own autopsy reports, of that number 650 were killed by shrapnel, mines, and grenades, which excludes the possibility of execution but is unquestionably consistent with combat. But the main point is that the total of 1,923 exhumed bodies represents all human losses in the Srebrenica enclave during the conflict, from 1992 to 1995.
8. When talking about Srebrenica, it is important to reiterate that without the “genocide” allegedly committed there and the hypocritically asserted obligation to “prevent another Srebrenica,” there would be no right-to-protect “humanitarian intervention” doctrine. That doctrine is increasingly becoming the principal raison d’etre of NATO and its excuse for the destruction of sovereign governments in different parts of the world under the guise of benevolence. Yet – and this is another Srebrenica oddity for you to chew on – at the Dayton peace conference in November 1995, four months after the event, not a word was spoken about “Srebrenica genocide” or the mass execution of prisoners. Does anyone seriously think that Alija Izetbegović would have refrained from extracting maximum political advantage in the negotiations by using the Srebrenica card if he had had any solid evidence of genocide to show? There is, in fact, much evidence to suggest that Srebrenica was initially a false flag improvised to provide media and political cover for the huge crimes committed by Croats and their NATO backers against the Serbian population of Krajina in Operation Storm, which followed shortly thereafter. Srebrenica’s potential as a tool to be used for other purposes was grasped only gradually, and later. The “genocide” refrain was introduced only in 1997 at an international conference in Sarajevo, including the “8,000 men and boys” meme. The right-to-protect use of Srebrenica came several years after that, around the time of the Kosovo war.
So much for an essential overview of Srebrenica. Now to return to Jasenovac.
The bodies of prisoners executed by the Ustaše in Jasenovac (Source: Wikimedia Commons)
There is an immense contrast between Srebrenica and Jasenovac. Jasenovac was not a false flag operation but an openly conducted, ideologically inspired extermination site, which functioned publicly and in accordance with the laws and political goals of the satellite, pro-Nazi Croatian wartime state. All the resources of the Croat state were consciously mobilized and intensely focused to make Jasenovac possible as the country’s premier mass killing field and slaughterhouse. That is not to neglect, of course, thousands of Serbian villages and other less well-known spots where the relentless extermination program, which shall forever blacken the name of that unhappy land, was being implemented.
There is an important question about Jasenovac to which so far no one has been able to provide a coherent answer. It must be raised. For the last twenty or so years vast treasure has been channelled into Srebrenica mass grave exhumations to forensically document inflated prisoner of war execution figures. As pointed out, best efforts and unhindered access notwithstanding, Srebrenica exhumations have been an embarrassing flop. Just slightly over 1,000 human remains have been uncovered in a condition or with a pattern of injury suggesting execution, far short of the target figure of 8,000.
For Jasenovac we have a multitude of independent reports, many from shocked but victim-hostile, perpetrator-friendly German sources, about the massiveness and depravity of crimes that were committed there. They run not into thousands, but into the hundreds of thousands. So here is the question.
For three years during the conflict in the nineties, the site of the main Jasenovac camp on Croatian territory was under the control of Serbian forces. During that time, not the slightest effort was made by local Serbs or their authorities to exhume any of the Jasenovac killing sites and to forensically document what was bulldozed over and hidden underneath the earth’s surface. Why?
Jews on selection ramp at Auschwitz, May 1944 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)
Assuming that the exigencies of war might have prevented them from taking these reasonable steps at that time, there is a follow-up question. The war has been over for a quarter of a century. But the Jasenovac death camp extended over to the other bank of the Sava River, which is now fully under the control of the Republic of Srpska. The Gradina camp of the Jasenovac complex is beyond the reach of Croatian authorities and they cannot tamper with or misrepresent the evidence that lies just under the surface of the earth there. That is all the more important since historians and survivors are unanimous that most of the mass killings associated with Jasenovac actually occurred on the Gradina side of the Sava River.
For two decades the authorities of the Republic of Srpska have tolerated tendentious exhumations around Srebrenica, on their territory, designed to document a phony genocide and saddle them and their people with responsibility for it. Every year with great fanfare Republic of Srpska officials come to Gradina to collect political points by commemorating the horrors of Jasenovac, but they do it risk-free, while remaining on the earth’s surface. When will they send a team of forensic experts with shovels to start digging and to check and document what lies underneath the surface?
In today’s brutal, neo-fascist world expecting risky behaviour from politicians is unrealistic. But there is a moral obligation to pop the question: Why hasn’t the government of the Republic of Srpska done the natural thing to document the scope of the real genocide that not too long ago was inflicted upon its people and took place on its territory? Why has it failed to do even the minimum to collect the tangible evidence fully within its reach to settle once and for all the demeaning and cynical Croatian numbers game about the victims of Jasenovac?
I am ready to take my shovel and start digging. Who will join me?
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This article was originally published on Srebrenica Project.
Stephen Karganovic is president of “Srebrenica Historical Project,” an NGO registered in the Netherlands to investigate the factual matrix and background of events that took place in Srebrenica in July of 1995.