8 October 2015 The Head of the standing delegation of the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia to the Interparliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy at the conference in Dusseldorf
Friday, 9 October 2015
MP Cotric at Dusseldorf Conference on World War II
MP Aleksandar Cotric, Head of the standing delegation of the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia to the Interparliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy (IAO), took part in the international conference on World War II - Christian standpoint: 70 years on.
“Yugoslavia fought on the side of the anti-fascist coalition in WW II and greatly contributed to the victory over the evil of fascism. In the efforts, the Serbian people who suffered many losses. Serbs had two anti-fascist movements: partisan and royalist. Around a million two thousand Serbs were killed in WW II, most of them on the territory of the Independent State of Croatia (NDH) where the Serbian Orthodox population suffered a genocide. According to estimates, about a million Serbs were killed in this Nazi puppet state. In just one Ustasha concentration camp – Jasenovac, about 700,000 civilians – children, women, men and the elderly, were killed just because they were Serbs and Orthodox Christians.”
Cotric reminded the assembly that “then Serbian Patriarch Gavrilo was arrested by the German authorities in 1941 and first kept in prison, then under house arrest, and afterwards, as the only head of a church in Europe sent to the heinous Nazi death camp in Dachau. On 5 May 1941 the Croatian Ustasha arrested and immediately killed the Bishop of Banja Luka Platon Jovanovic, then on 12 May detained and soon killed the Metropolitan of Sarajevo Petar Zimonjic, and in mid-august, bishop of Upper Karlovac Sava Trlajic was killed. From May to December 1941 Ustasha killed more than 150 priests of the Serbian Orthodox Church”.
“Between 1941 and 1945, more than 450 Orthodox churches were destroyed, burned, damaged or desecrated in NDH, and more than a million Serbian Orthodox priests were killed, exiled or turned to Catholicism”, said Cotric.
He said that “the Ustasha commanders, perpetrators and participants of the genocide against the Serbian people, among them priests of the Croatian Catholic Church, aimed to destroy the Serbian national being in NDH and eradicate all trace of their historical presence”.
Listing other Ustasha crimes, MP Cotric said that “in Serbian Orthodox temples monumental iconostasis, thousands of icons, many manuscripts and rare books, birth, marriage and death records, vast archival material were destroyed, as well as many church edifices of cultural and historical significance and beauty”.
“After all the crimes committed against our people”, said MP Cotric, “Patriarch German said at the site of Jasenovac death camp “We forgive, but we do not forget”.
“Awareness of the past is a crucial to avoid similar crimes in the future. Moral judgement of the crimes is important for the education of young generations. The victims of Nazi crimes deserve sympathy, understanding and recognition of their suffering, which is what we are doing at this conference”, the MP concluded his address.
The conference was organised by the Interparliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy in collaboration with the parish of the Orthodox church of Holy Apostle Andrew in Dusseldorf, with Greek, Romanian and Armenian MPs also attending. The speakers included officials of Dusseldorf, the Orthodox, the Catholic and the Protestant Church in Germany and other churches, as well as university professors and other renowned figures, among them the Serbian Bishop of Austria-Switzerland Andrej.