The head of Bosnia’s Jewish Community, Jakob Finci, and the head of the Jewish Community of Sarajevo, Boris Kozemjakin, said in an open letter on Friday that they were deeply hurt by the announcement that a commemoration for the "fascists killed in Bleiburg" will be held in Sarajevo on May 16 and that they received the news “with disbelief.”
“The Jews of our country, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the Jews of Sarajevo especially, as the descendants of the more than ten thousand Jews who were killed, of whom more than seven thousand were from Sarajevo, can not accept the fact that the city of Sarajevo, which we marked the liberation of a month ago celebrating it as the Day of Sarajevo, condemn the announced commemoration and Mass for the Ustasha (ideology) which was defeated long ago,” the letter said.
The Mass “commemorates the executioners of our mothers, fathers, grandfathers, compatriots and all other innocent people killed by the fascists of the NDH (Independent State of Croatia) para-state,” it said, naming fascist officials Maks Luburic and Jure Francetic among those who would be commemorated.
Finci and Kozemjakin emphasised that Sarajevo is “a multiconfessional and multinational city, a city of freedom where a lot of innocent blood was shed in the past in the fight against totalitarianism and repression, fascism in particular,” and as such does not deserve to be a place where “attempts to rewrite history and equate victims with executioners” are taking place.
They wrote that they are not trying to dispute the right of the Catholic Church to make decisions freely but also that they would be happier if it would not have decided to organise this Mass.
The Jewish leaders expressed their “fierce protest” regarding the event, arguing that there is no way to justify it.
Part of those killed at Bleiburg were innocents, they wrote, expressing their respects for them.
“But their husbands, fathers and other members of their families, who have committed atrocities against innocent people in the infamous concentration camps and massacres throughout our country, don’t deserve their name mentioned in Sarajevo,” they wrote.
The two added that May 9, the Day of Victory against fascism, is being celebrated on Saturday and asked “would we not be hypocrites if we would commemorate fascism seven days later?”
“Let us decisively say NO,” they concluded.