Radovan Karadzic and his grandchildren

Via signandsight here are the opening paragraphs of an excellent article — & a very chilling one, in terms of the cultural & political future of Europe from the Balkans westward — by the Croatian writer Dubravka Ugresic (check out her website here).

Radovan Karadzic and his grandchildren

Karadzic has been caught, but the war is not over yet for the heirs of Yugoslavia’s war criminals. By Dubravka Ugresic

I am not a monster, I am a writer!
(Radovan Karadzic)

One hundred and forty-one old men

Over the weekend of the 19th and 20th of July 2008, the town of Key West in Florida played host to one hundred and forty-one — Ernest Hemingways. Hemingways from all over America gathered in Key West in a competition for the greatest degree of physical resemblance between the famous writer and his surrogates. This year the winner was Tom Grizzard, in what is said to have been a very stiff competition. The photograph that went round the world shows a collection of merry granddads, looking like Father Christmases who have escaped from their winter duties, that is to say like Ernest Hemingway. The old men, who meet every year in Key West on Hemingway’s birthday, took part in fishing and short story writing competitions.

Another old man …

The following day newspapers in Croatia carried a photograph of an old man who has no connection at all with the hundred and forty-one old men from the previous article. In Croatia on 21st July 2008, Dinko Sakic died, at the age of eighty-six. Who was Dinko Sakic? Sakic was the commandant of the Ustasha concentration camp of Jasenovac, where Jews, Serbs, Gyspies and communist-oriented Croats were systematically annihilated. After the war he managed to escape to Argentina, and it was not until 1999 that the Argentinian authorities handed him over to Croatia, where he was sentenced to twenty years in prison.

At that ‘historic’ moment, many Croats saw the sentence of Dinko Sakic as an injustice because for them that same Independent State of Croatia (in which Dinko Sakic had killed Jews, Gypsies, Serbs and unsuitable Croats) was ‘the foundation of our present Croatian homeland’, as the local priest, Vjekoslav Lasic, put it on the occasion of his death. The priest was in fact merely expounding a thesis put forward by Franjo Tudjman, the first President of Croatia (since Ante Pavelic), and the ‘father of the Croatian nation’. ‘That is why every decent Croat is proud of the name Dinko Sakic,’ announced the priest Vjekoslav Lasic, adding that he was ‘proud that he had seen Sakic on his bier dressed in an Ustasha uniform.’ The funeral of old Dinko Sakic at Mirogoj cemetery in Zagreb on 24th July 2008 was attended by some three hundred people. Even aged criminals have friends. Three hundred people is a pretty decent number.

And another old man …

(To read the rest of the article, go to the following url.)

(This article was originally published in German in the Neue Zürcher Zeitung on 16 August 2008.

Translation by Celia Hawkesworth. She has translated two of Dubravka Ugresic’s books into English for Weidenfeld and Nicolson publishers: ‘The Museum of Unconditional Surrender’ 1998, and ‘The Culture of Lies’, winner of the Heldt Prize for Translation, 1999.)

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