Croatia's political leaders were again unable to come together to mark the anniversary of the breakout of prisoners from the Ustasha-run WWII Jasenovac concentration camp, with President Zoran Milanović and Prime Minister Andrej Plenković paying their respects separately at the Jasenovac Memorial on Friday.
President Milanović arrived in Jasenovac Friday morning, ahead of Prime Minister Plenković, who was joined by representatives of the Serb and Roma communities for the official commemoration but not by the Jewish community, which is planning to mark the anniversary on Holocaust Remembrance Day next week.
Anđelka Đordić, who traveled from Kaštel Gomilica to Jasenovac, said she lost many close relatives to the Ustasha regime.
"History should teach us not to repeat the same mistakes because the victims of war are always the innocent ones," the 87-year-old said.
Đordić and others placed stones along the path leading to the giant flower-shaped sculpture, the central feature of the memorial, as they gathered for the commemoration.
"We grieve for all who perished here," said Prime Minister Andrej Plenković. He also said the exhibition at the memorial center would be modernized to help young people gain a better understanding of the crimes that occurred there.
"It is important that young people in our education system can learn about these crimes in a clear way," he said.
Earlier in the day, President Milanovic placed flowers and stones with his own delegation at the foot of the Flower Memorial. Explaining his separate arrival, he said that he did not want to be at the commemoration with members of the government because “one minute they foment Ustashaism and the next they pretend to be liberals."
The commemoration at the Jasenovac Memorial Area marks April 22, 1945, when 600 detainees of the concentration camp broke free. Only about a hundred survived. The commemoration honors victims and survivors of the camp.
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