Please join Stanko Vuleta and the
Ottawa Serbian Heritage Society in supporting this petition to
By Stanko Vuleta
Three of my grandparents were killed in
Jovanka and Stanko Males, my maternal grandparents, were killed in Jasenovac. (Although one of the largest concentration/extermination camps in Europe, most have never heard of it.)
When Ustashi came to their house in 1941,
they broke Stanko’s jaw with a gun butt and tore a full braid of hair from
Jovanka’s head. Jovanka and Stanko left behind four sons and two
daughters, one of them a five year old named Andja – my mother. Ustashi
also killed Jovo Vuleta, my paternal grandfather. As my late aunt told me,
Ustashi cut his neck to prolong his suffering and then threw him into a
mass grave with 71 other Serbs from Cipuljic. This village in central
Bosnia, is where I grew up. Jovo's son, Gligorije, wanting to avenge his
father's murder, joined the resistance when he was just thirteen years
My grandparents were civilians.
Their only crime -- being Serbs.
Mile Budak was minister of education in the Nazi satellite state of Croatia which perpetrated these crimes in WWII. He stated the goals of this state: to kill one third of the Serbs, drive out another third and forcibly convert the last third to Catholicism.
Ante Pavelic was the head of this state. It indeed killed hundreds of thousands of Serbs and forcibly converted hundreds of thousands more. They also massacred Jews and Roma.
Fifty years later, in 1991, a reincarnated Ustashi movement formed a government in Croatia. They immediately proclaimed its independence from Yugoslavia. In the spring of that year, I was completing university studies in Zagreb, the capital of Croatia. There, I walked past graffiti proclaiming “Passage forbidden for dogs and Serbs” and I heard people singing Ustashi songs in the main square. Serbs trapped in Croatia feared the worst and they got it. Tens of thousands were killed and hundreds of thousands were expelled. Serbs, including me, were forced from Cipuljic and almost all our homes were looted and set to torch.
The plan of Mile Budak had come to full fruition. The genocide of Serbs, Jews and Roma in Croatia was completed and Croatia was “ethnically cleansed” – the term invented by Ustashi.
It is jarring to Serbian Canadians to learn that a Croatian group glorified the memories of Budak, Pavelic and other Ustashi leaders when donating to Canada's anticommunism monument. This is not an isolated incident -- other groups are using it to honour Nazi-collaborators as if they were "freedom fighters."It is even more jarring to know that the monument's prime source of funding is the Government of Canada which is donating 80% of its costs. In 2021, then-finance minister Chrystia Freeland approved an extra $4 million for this monument.
Freeland herself began her career writing for an Edmonton-based, government-funded Ukrainian encyclopedia that her grandfather also worked on. It was founded by her grandfather's wartime boss after the war to rewrite history by covering up their community's fascist heritage and glorifying their Nazi-collaborating leaders as heroes.
I am appalled to learn that the Canadian government is collaborating with
fascist-glorifying groups and is leading the funding of their national
monument in Ottawa.