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Balkan Holocausts?Serbian and Croatian Victim Centered Propaganda and the War in Yugoslavia$
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David Bruce Macdonald

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780719064661

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: July 2012

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719064661.001.0001

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Comparing genocides: ‘numbers games’ and ‘holocausts’ at Jasenovac and Bleiburg

Comparing genocides: ‘numbers games’ and ‘holocausts’ at Jasenovac and Bleiburg

(p.160) 6 Comparing genocides: ‘numbers games’ and ‘holocausts’ at Jasenovac and Bleiburg
Balkan Holocausts?

David Bruce Macdonald

Manchester University Press

This chapter reviews two of the most important persecution myths emerging from World War II. Revising the history of the Ustasa-run death camp at Jasenovac was a useful means of casting Serbs as the victims of a ‘Holocaust’ by Croats. On the Croatian side, the massacre at Bleiburg (Austria) by Communist forces (or Serb-led Communists, as the case might be) in 1945 was also likened to the Holocaust. In both cases, the other side was accused of committing genocide, using either the mask of Nazi or Communist domination to justify their atrocities. Of central importance was a ‘game of numbers’, or Ronnie Landau's ‘grotesque competition in suffering’. Serbs and Croats used the Jews as the litmus test for historical suffering, while also trading genocide stories with each other. By inflating their own numbers of dead, and reducing the numbers of enemy dead, they conducted their own comparative genocide debate within Yugoslavia. Both Jasenovac and Bleiburg became emblematic of national suffering and Fall during World War II.

Keywords:   World War II, Serbs, Croats, Holocaust, genocide, Yugoslavia, persecution myths, Jasenovac, Bleiburg, suffering

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