Croatian Jew Urges Australians to Back Republic’s Independence

A Croatian Jewish patriot trying to enlist Australian Jewry’s support of his country’s struggle for independence was hard pressed to convince Jewish leaders here recently that the breakaway republic bears no vestiges of its Nazi past.

Mijahlo Montiljo, deputy foreign minister of the Croatian republic, tried to refute charges that the Croatian leadership is fascist or anti-Semitic.

Meeting with the Executive Council of Australian Jewry here earlier this month, he acknowledged that Ante Pavelic, leader of the wartime Nazi puppet state of Croatia, was “a war criminal,” as bad for Jews as Adolf Hitler.

Montiljo insisted, however, that the new Croatian leadership had no ideological links to Pavelic’s anti-Semitic Ustashi party.

Montiljo said President Franjo Tudjman has gone out of his way to promote and protect Croatian Jewry.

But Leslie Caplan, president of the Executive Council, said Australian Jewry needs confidence-building measures. “We cannot ignore outstanding problems with the leadership of the Australian Croatian community,” he said.

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