Sunday, January 15, 2012

Beast of the Balkans: Guess Who?

I'm not aware of Alan Griffiths or Andrew Neil being married to Serbian women or having gotten drunk at the Guca Trumpet Festival. I haven't even heard of these two men before tonight. Griffiths and Neil are the executives of World Media Rights, a UK-based production house that authored the "Nazi Collaborators" series and sold it to Discovery's Military Channel last year. One of the 13 half-hour-long parts of the series is the most surprising and refreshing documentary piece I've seen in recent years, titled "Beast of the Balkans." When I saw the title within the context of the series, a pleasant thought occurred to me: there was no Serb Nazi collaborators that this title could apply to - it had to be about someone other than the Serbs! Understandably, any production that comes from the Western hemisphere causes a knee-jerk rejection in a Serb who, based on overwhelming experience, expects another bashing. I have to admit that, for a second, I feared that Western media stooped to a new low in their vilification of Serbs and spun a new paradigm around the Serbian participation in the war. I couldn't fathom an approach that would produce a spin vilifying the Serbian anti-fascist struggle in the Second World War, but in lieu of the anti-Serb propaganda that marked the reporting on the Wars of Yugoslav Succession and their fallout, I could let nothing surprise me. With the increasingly aggressive attempts to distort historical facts of the Second World War and sneak the false notions of Croat and Bosnian Muslim anti-fascism into historical generalizations, this title alarmed me a bit. However, messieurs Griffiths and Neil made sure my fear was alleviated in the most pleasant fashion.
"Beast of the Balkans" inexplicably - in the light of Western media's MO in treating the Serbs - reverts to the documented historical facts which place the Croat fascist regime at the forefront of the Nazi genocidal policies, oftentimes exceeding its mentor's expectations in brutality and gravity of its actions' historical consequences. Abundant in archival footage, the documentary brings forth the faces of evil in Ante Pavelic, Maks Luburic and especially Dinko Sakic, who had the honor of being the actual subject of the movie's title. The authors effectively captured the genocide committed against Serbs, and Jews and Gypsies to a lesser degree, complete with the murderous sentiments behind the extermination program, the policy of thirds, and the gruesome execution of the plan with the focus on the Jasenovac death camp, which connects the narrative to Dinko Sakic, its "director." Dinko Sakic, in turn, with his wartime role, his escape, arrest, trial and eventual death, serves as the motivation for making the movie, the main protagonist and the recent testament that the Croat fascist legacy lives on in the reincarnated Croat state of the present. 
Sakic was the living connection between the Pavelic regime and the Tudjman regime. Found in hiding in Argentina by Nazi hunter Efraim Zuroff, this fascist came home to Croatia for trial, and got a hero's welcome, despite the dog and pony show of the official treatment. His interment, in a full Ustasha uniform and officiated by a Catholic priest, was accompanied by eulogies becoming of a national hero, not a mass murderer. The unrepentant attitude of Dinko Sakic and the compassion it found in Croatia of the present, clearly indicated the continuity of fascist sentiments from Pavelic's Croats to Mesic's and Kosor's Croats. Of course, Serbs knew this, but to see it on an American cable channel was quite extraordinary.
Perhaps the most far-reaching effect "Beast of the Balkans" intended to make on its audience is the solidifying of the historical truth that the Catholic Church and its highest priest in Croatia, Archbishop Aloysius Stepinac, wholeheartedly supported the mass murders of non-Croats, blessed the extermination enterprise and even actively participated. Pope John Paul II, however, beatified Stepinac, confirming not only the impenitence over the mass murder committed and complicity in it, but also revealing the continuity of the active and deliberate role the highest echelons of the Roman Catholic establishment played in the Croat genocidal politics.
As I said at the top, I'm not aware of World Media Rights' Serbian connection, and I'm still puzzled as to why they would stand out and decide to tell the truth. And in 30 minutes, they've said everything that could have fit. Yes, there was a couple of omissions - not fallacies, but useful facts fallen through cracks - I'm willing to live with and blame it on the tight rundown. Now, I haven't done the research yet on how World Media Rights' other works treat the historical facts, but this one piece was well done and I have to commend it as a history buff and especially as a Serb hungry for the truth to make its way into the Western mainstream.


Anonymous said...

I'm concerned with the accuracy of these programs. There's already a tonne of questions raised about the accuracy of information passed along by Serb's. Information is avalible to anyone fron the USHMM which is concidered "the" source for accuracy in reguards to casualties, collaborators and other statistics reguarding the holocaust. Almost all of which contradict popular statistics belived by the majority of Serb's but nobody else! Even Serbian scholars talk about the need to satisfy our hatred with gross exadurations and finger pointing. The more we bullshit the worse we look in the end.

Srbo said...

This film was produced by a British production house and broadcast by an American cable channel. What does it have to do with the information presented by the Serbs?
On the other hand, most of the relevant data related to the Croat death camps was collected by the Yugoslav Communist researchers and their Jewish colleagues.
Which exact information in the film are you disputing?

Anonymous said...

There's the Croat opposition that was executed along with his duputies in 1928 not imprisoned, a announcment of separation was made to spark that. As well as the camp that was pictured, it wasn't Jasenovac. Jasenovac maps and pictures show one building similar to the the ones depicted. Also the researcher was Martina Batunjac, I cannot verify shes serbian.