June 10, 2009

Letter to the University of Minnesota’s Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies


The following petition is an initiative of the Congress of North American Bosniaks, www.bosniak.org.

Robert H. Bruininks, President
University of Minnesota
202 Morrill Hall
100 Church Street S.E.
Minneapolis, MN 55455

Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies
University of Minnesota
100 Nolte Center West
315 Pillsbury Drive
Minneapolis, MN 55455

Esteemed President Bruininks and Faculty and Staff members at the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies:

The Congress of North American Bosniaks (CNAB), an umbrella organization representing American and Canadian Bosniaks, is appalled that an esteemed institution such as the University of Minnesota has published Serbian propaganda on its web page.

Please refer to the web address: www.chgs.umn.edu/museum/memorials/bosnia/ where the topic of Holocaust and the recent genocide in Bosnia and Herzegovina are viewed from a single and unfortunately extremely biased source – that of one Carl Savich. Moreover, the references he makes to serbianna.net reveal just what an ultra-nationalist Savich is.1

Instead of relying on the abundance of material and research done by highly respected international / US historians and academics such as Dr. Noel Malcolm, Dr. Marko Attila Hoare, Dr. Ivo Banac, Michael A. Sells, Dr. Robert J. Donia, Dr. John V. A. Fine to mention just a few, your institution chose to promote the personal agenda of the obscure and biased Savich who does not even list genuine verified historical evidence and even goes so far to add falsehood to his claims stating that the “Entire Jewish and Serbian communities in the Sarajevo region were destroyed.” As post-war Yugoslav censuses have already proven, this was not the case and the Jewish-Bosnian community remained in Sarajevo where it coexisted and prospered with all others for the previous 500 years – until the most recent 1992 brutal aggression on Bosnia forced Jews and Bosnian Muslims to flee as refugees which resulted in a sharp decline in numbers.

Bosnian historians and academics such as the late Dr. Muhamed Hadzijahic, Dr. Atif Purivatra, Dr. Branko Djurdjev, and Valdimir Dedijer studied the topic of the Holocaust within the wider context of WWII and Balkan wars. In more recent times Nihad Halilbegovic, Dr. Paul Cohen, and Dr. Smail Cengic wrote extensively on Holocaust in Bosnia and all its often unknown and denied victims. In particular, very thorough research from the Nazi archives presented in the following books Zijo Sulejmanpasic “13. SS Handzar Division: the truth and lies”; George Lepre “Himmler’s Bosnian Division” Rolf Michaelis “Gebirgsdivisionen der Waffen-SS”. These are all available today in English.

The French town Villefrance-de-Rouergue has honored Bosnian soldiers every year on September 17th as anti-fascists for the past 6 decades.

Furthermore, Savich deliberately skates over the fact that in October 1942, in the midst of Nazi-occupied Europe and alone on the Balkans, thousands of Bosnian Muslims signed a petition, submitted to Croatia’s Nazi regime requesting legal and physical protection for their Jewish and Roma neighbors. Therefore individuals mentioned in Savich’s quotes and on the UoM web page are rather the exceptions than the rule for Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslims). In fact, many Bosniak Muslims hid their numerous Jewish neighbors and their most prized treasures, causing many of these valiant Muslims to become persecuted themselves – by Croatian Nazi and Serb Communist regimes alike. The example of Dervis Korkut’s family is only one such among many.1

What Carl Savich and Bosnia genocide deniers all have in common is a desire to re-frame Serbian war crimes as heroic acts while demonizing the Muslim inhabitants of the Balkans, “thereby countering the perceived brainwashing of the human race by imperialist propaganda” as Savich likes to call US media. Please refer to the attached articles from Serbianna.net web site. Such a radical position as that has no place in an institution of higher learning. Furthermore, members of Carl Savich’s circle often seem genuinely unable to distinguish between the recent Balkan wars and World War II and for this reason, more than any other part of the world, the former Yugoslav federal state of Bosnia-Herzegovina is portrayed as the place of “civil war” and “ancient hatreds” instead of “bridge between the cultures” as Bosnians themselves call it.

It is terrifying to read the claim quoted on Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies page that temples of faith and compassions, “the churches, the cathedrals, the mosques, and the synagogues are the remaining symbols of this battle and conflict between cultures and empires.” For Bosnians these institutions have always been a place for interfaith dialogue, ancient wisdom and learning and any hate preached from the pulpit was brought from the outside, not conceived by Bosnians.

Bosnia and Herzegovina has already become a moral battlefield, a “world war” if you like, “in terms of the focus, money, alliances formed (Russia, Serbia, and Greece against the West) and alliances discredited (such as NATO, the OSCE, the European Community, and the UN).”

Please do no allow the name and the history of the Bosnian people to become victimized by Serbian propaganda via so called “Holocaust education.” The denial of the genocide against Bosniaks puts the credibility of the entire University of Minnesota at stake and we as the representatives of Bosnian Diaspora in North America must protect Bosniak honor from bigotry.

Thank you for your consideration.


On behalf of the CNAB
President of the Board of Directors
Haris Alibasic

Cc: Faculty and Staff at the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies

1. This is an excerpt from Carl Savitch’s article “U.S. Presidential Election 2008” from November 2, 2008; “Like Obama and Biden, McCain and Palin seek to continue the anti-Serbian, anti-Russian, and anti-Orthodox policies that have characterized U.S. foreign policy since the breakup of Yugoslavia in 1992. McCain and Palin seek the expansion of NATO in the Balkans and in the Caucasus. Like Obama and Biden, both seek the military and strategic encirclement of the Russian Federation and both seek to maintain anti-Serbian policies, preventing a resurgence of Serbian “nationalism” and drastically restricting Serbian sovereignty over its own territory. http://www.serbianna.com/columns/savich/105.shtml

2. Sarajevo Haggadah http://povcrystal.blogspot.com/2009/05/sarajevo-haggadah.html


I apologize for this mistake. I have sent a request to our website team asking them to remove the link to the Carl Savich article and also to remove the reference to Carl Savich in the first paragraph. This should be done either today or tomorrow.



Office Manager
Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies
University of Minnesota

101 Nolte Center
315 Pillsbury Drive SE
Minneapolis MN 55455

  1. Kirk Johnson
    June 15, 2009 at 1:14 am

    As of 9:13 PM Sunday June 14, there are still obnoxious, biased links to Serb nationalist propaganda on that website. Disgraceful.

  2. Srebrenica Genocide Blog Editor
    June 16, 2009 at 3:28 am

    Kirk, considering that the article is based on Carl Savich's writings, I believe it should be completely rewritten. Genocide deniers like Carl Kosta Savich have no credibility.

    Furthermore, the article still contains links to genocide denial and ultranationalist Serbian web site "Srpska Mreza" (maintained by Petar Makara). I agree, it's disgraceful.

  3. Kirk Johnson
    June 17, 2009 at 1:28 pm

    I sent them an email a few days ago about this, explaining how biased the article is and especially noting that Srpska Mreza is anything BUT a credible source. So far, not even an acknowledgement that they received my email.

    There are other dubious links on that site as well; yet they also include links to works by Norman Cigar and Michael Sells, so they may argue that they're allowing "different voices" or some such moral equivalence.

    This is something I will continue to look into. I've been meaning to blog on this, but I've been busy (and I'm waiting for my dentist to find time to see me–I have a really bad toothache!).

  4. Srebrenica Genocide Blog Editor
    June 18, 2009 at 4:39 am


    Carl Savich simply has no credibility. He portrays Bosnians Muslims as "Nazis," who killed Serbs in Jasenovac. Of course, this is a lie manufactured by Serbian imaginary history. In fact, thousands of Bosniaks were killed in Jasenovac.

    According to Yad Vashem, on April 22, 1945, Bosnian Muslim prisoner Zahid Bukurevic and Serb prisoner Stanko Gacesa orchestrated a revolt and attempted to break out of the camp. They led a group of other prisoners armed with bricks.

    "A second breakout was attempted later that day under the leadership of Stanko Gacesa and Zahid Bukurevic. Only 11 out 150 escapees survived this attempt."

  5. Anonymous
    June 19, 2009 at 1:01 pm

    It is sickening that CHGS would recomend fascist websites slike serbianna and srpska-mreza!

  6. Anonymous
    June 19, 2009 at 4:48 pm

    the text is still there:(

  7. owen
    June 21, 2009 at 4:24 pm

    It doesn't say too much for the efforts made by the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies to check their sources. The material is still up there on 21 June.

  8. Anonymous
    June 30, 2009 at 4:43 pm

    As of 30 June:

    "This page is being updated"

  9. owen
    July 11, 2009 at 7:18 am

    Something else very strange in Minnesota.

    The Minnesota Branch of the Genocide Intervention Network have put up a web page on the Bosnian Genocide which completely fails to mention either Srebrenica or the Prijedor camps:

    The page goes into a number of the aspects of the genocide in reasonable depth and includes mention of Bijeljina, the siege of Sarajevo, Foca, Koricani Cliffs, Lasva Valley, Ahmici and the Tuzla Kapija massacre but not a word about Srebrenica or Omarska apart from a passing reference to "many more massacres to name".

    The branch is chaired by Ellen Kennedy, Director of the Univ. of Minnesota Center for Holocaust & Genocide Studies.

    All very peculiar.

  10. Srebrenica Genocide Blog Editor
    July 13, 2009 at 7:02 am


    They seem to be updating their web site.

    The Congress of North American Bosniaks received the following response from the University of Minnesota. Please take a look at this link or download in PDF format.

  11. owen
    July 13, 2009 at 8:49 am

    CNAB receives replies but not individuals.

    I have the impression that the Center has an in-depth coverage of the Holocaust but that contemporary genocide issues are included almost an after-thought. There may be a systematic approach there but it's hard to detect.

    That lack of familiarity with the subject may explain the failure to understand what Carl Savich was about.

  1. No trackbacks yet.
Comments are closed.
%d bloggers like this: