Vladimir Zerjavic

From Academic Kids

Vladimir Žerjavić (August 2, 1912 - September 5, 2001) was a Croatian economist and a United Nations specialist who published a series of articles and books during the 1980s and 1990s in which he argued that the scope of the Holocaust in World War II-era Croatia was exaggerated.

Žerjavić calculated that Yugoslavia lost 1,027,000 people in World War II. Of that, 295,000 died in Croatia, and 328,000 in Bosnia and Herzegovina (both part of the Independent State of Croatia and under the Ustaša regime at the time), and another 36,000 from those countries died abroad. His calculation includes 153,000 civilian victims in Croatia and 174,000 in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and of that, 85,000 people from Bosnia and Herzegovina and 48,000 from Croatia died in concentration camps. [1] (http://www.hr/darko/etf/bul2.html)

With regard to the Serbs, Žerjavić's calculation ended with a total of 197,000 Serbian civilian victims on the territory of the Independent State of Croatia: 50,000 in the Jasenovac concentration camp, 45,000 killed by the Germans, 34,000 civilians killed in battles between Ustashas, Chetniks and Partisans, 28,000 killed in prisons, pits and other camps, etc. Another 125,000 Serbian people from NDH were killed as combatants, raising the total to 322,000.[2] (http://www.hic.hr/books/manipulations/p07.htm)

Most international agencies have accepted Žerjavić's (and Bogoljub Kočović's) calculations as the most reliable data on war losses in Yugoslavia during WW2. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum reports:

"Due to differing views and lack of documentation, estimates for the number of Serbian victims in Croatia range widely, from 25,000 to more than one million. The estimated number of Serbs killed in Jasenovac ranges from 25,000 to 700,000. The most reliable figures place the number of Serbs killed by the Ustaša between 330,000 and 390,000, with 45,000 to 52,000 Serbs murdered in Jasenovac."[3] (http://www.ushmm.org/museum/exhibit/online/jasenovac/)

A notable exception still seems to be the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

Žerjavić's opinions and statements

His investigations and statistical analysis aim to show that the original number of lives lost on all sides in the Balkans was considerably exaggerated for the sake of war reparations claims by the Yugoslav government shortly after the war. His primary intent was to demonstrate with these findings that there should be no argument for further bloodshed between Croats and Serbs based on these exaggerated figures, that much of the revenge had already occurred between Croats and Serbs during the war, and that Croats and Serbs could continue to live together peacefully, as they had for centuries.

Žerjavić also stated that the majority of Croats and Serbs fought side by side against the Nazis, as did he, in Tito's partisan army.

Excerpt from Žerjavić's book "Manipulations with WW2 victims in Yugoslavia":

“One should also believe that the Serbians in Croatia, who have lived in these territories for more than four centuries, will realize that they are not endangered in a community with Croatians. They especially should not be afraid that any form of genocide could occur, because they themselves know best that during the Second World War a large number of Croatians stood at their defense, and that they, along with Serbians, contributed to the National Liberation War, and even prevented a larger number of victims. It should be mentioned that the regular Croatian Army (Domobrani) also helped with their passive role and even by logistic support to the partisan units.
It should be noted that vengeance for the crimes committed by the Ustashas was executed immediately after the war, with the terrible massacres at Bleiburg in Austria and during the so-called Way of the Cross (Death Marches), when many innocent opponents of the Communist regime were also killed. Therefore, enacting vengeance against the Croatians, with whom the Serbians in Croatia have peacefully lived for the past 45 years, could not be excused, neither morally nor politically.
After the artificially created euphoria is over, and once peace is established, all reasonable and objective Serbians will -- I strongly believe -- realize that their common life with Croatians, in a state with a prosperous economic future, is the most acceptable solution for them.“
- Vladimir Žerjavić, Zagreb, April 27, 1992



Critics consider his work to have been politically motivated, with the aim of downplaying nationalist Ustashi atrocities during the war, such as at the concentration camp of Jasenovac. Some go so far to state he was a Holocaust denier.

Proponents point out that Croatia proper had circa 650,000 Serb inhabitants in 1941 — virtually the same percentage of Croatia's population as in the first post-war census. In 1931, there were 3,430,270 people in Croatia, of which around 633,000 Serbs (~18.5%). In 1948, there were 3,779,858 inhabitants, of which the Serbs numbered 543,795 (14.38%). Several other statistics can be taken into account: in the 1948-1953 period the number of Serbs grew by 44,961 so if one were to estimate a similar growth rate for the 1931-1941 period, their number would have been increased by ~90,000 at the end of that period. Also, in the years 1946/47, some 60,000 Serbs emigrated from Croatia within federal colonisation action to settle on the abandoned property of Germans in Vojvodina. A rough estimate following this would show a decrease by around 120,000 people of Serbian nationality, or around 18% fewer than their pre-war number. Had genocide of such monstrous proportions as those for whom Žerjavić is a bete noire claim really happened, this would certainly have left a vast and all-too-visible hole in the country's demographics. No such thing, as other researchers and comparison of official censa in 1931 and 1948 have shown.

Also — had this mythic martyrological numerology been at least partially true, there wouldn't have been Serbs left to start their irredentist "spontaneous" rebellion during which they had temporarily carved out and seceded 1/4 of Croatia's territory. This crucial point, that the exaggeration of Serbian death toll in NDH is the cornerstone for post-1945 variant of Greater Serbian drive for expansion is frequently overlooked: a very puzzling thing, since this distorted self-image of a people victimized (especially by diabolical Croats) led to hostility and aggression on almost all neighboring nations that constituted Communist Yugoslavia, particularly Croats and Bosniaks. This state of mind was intentionally nourished and intensified in the concentrated effort of vast majority of Serbian intelligentsia (if this is the proper word) to create Greater Serbia on the ruins of destroyed Yugoslavia.

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