Once again, Croats and Albanians are going way ahead of Serbs in public relations. The movie by Croats director Jakov Sedlar called “The hug of destiny” is a new provocation. This film was included in the “New York Sephardic Festivalini NYC’ that was held from 2/23/-3/2/2020 in New York City.
The main idea of the film was that Albanians from Kosovo and Albania were saving Jews. In the same movie, Sedlar accused Serbs of collaborating with the Nazs, blaming them for the tragic destiny of Jews in Germany Occupied Serbia in WW2. Luckily, World Jewish Congress reacted with a statement about falsity of Sedlars movie.
Below is the link. The link is in Serbian but a translation is offered below.
Embrace Destiny – Albanians and Jews”
A documentary film by Croatian director James Sedlar’s “Embrace Destiny – Albanians and Jews” was screened in New York on Tuesday at the New York Sephardic Jewish Film Festival, the world premiere of the movie.
The film deals with the story of the suffering of Jews in World War II in the territory of Albania and Kosovo. The director is attempting “to explain for the first time in the medium of film the connection between the Albanian and Jewish people, especially during the Holocaust.”
Although the film is included in the regular schedule of the Jewish Film Festival in New York, the World Jewish Congress posted a video on its Facebook page challenging the narrative of the film in question, accusing Jacob Sedlar himself of misrepresenting historical facts.
According to Maya Samokovlija, deputy director of public relations at the World Jewish Congress’s Zagreb office, Sedlar in his film intertwines facts with fiction. She concludes that there is a political motive in the production of the documentary in question. The World Jewish Congress cites several examples that are distorted or false in the documentary of Jacob Sedlar:
“The narrator in Sedlar’s film states ‘according to reputable sources, Albert Einstein traveled to the United States thanks to an Albanian passport.’ The documentary further states that Einstein traveled to Albania and that the passport was issued in 1933. Apart from a reference to ‘reputable sources’, who are not named in the film, Sedlar does not provide any piece of evidence that Einstein has ever been to Albania. In truth, Albert Einstein had a Swiss passport and arrived in the United States as early as 1932. He never needed an Albanian passport to reach the United States, ” WJC states, adding: “According to the documentary, Albert Einstein also met the Albanian King Zog, but again without any proof. King Zog was otherwise known for capturing all his important events in life with his camera and would certainly not miss the opportunity to photograph a meeting with Einstein. There isn’t a single photo of this alleged encounter,” the World Jewish Congress asserts.
Ten minutes into the movie, Sedlar, according to the World Jewish Congress, “digresses into Serbia and the alleged long history of anti-Semitism in Serbia. The film states that after Karadjordje’s uprising in the 19th century he ordered all Jews to leave Serbia, which is absolutely factually incorrect. The only similar source we could find that cites such falsehoods is a Serbian neo-Nazi website. We really hope Sedlar didn’t use that as a source. The history of Jews in Serbia in the nineteenth century is quite different from the ‘facts’ cited by Sedlar,” the World Jewish Congress asserts, adding: “Sedlar further states in the film ‘Serbia was one of the closest allies of the Third Reich in Europe throughout the Second World War.’ Sedlar further claims that unlike other republics of the former Yugoslavia, there was no Serbian resistance against Hitler throughout the war. Serbia, Sedlar claims, became a state during World War II.
“We are of the opinion that we can cite many sources to the contrary and that this narrative is more similar to the narrative attributable to the NDH (Fascist Croatia) rather than to Serbia, which was occupied after the collapse of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, just two weeks after the well-known bombing of Belgrade on April 6, 1941.”
World Jewish Congress thinks Sedlar is trying to attach to Serbia, with this film, the epithets that belong to NDH [Fascist Croatia] and their relationship to Jews [who were exterminated in Croatian death camps or sent to German death camps along with Serbian civilian victims].
They also resent that Sedlar has not mentioned fascist Croatia in the film at all, and link this to his past projects, such as the documentary on ‘Jasenovac – The Truth’, which they consider to be ‘one of the greatest revisionist attempts in this subject area.’
They also point out at the World Jewish Congress that they are not trying to shift the responsibility for the persecution of Jews in Serbia to fascist Croatia, the NDH, but rather to point out the epithets Sedlar assigns to Serbia through the documentary, which are more appropriate to the NDH.
“Sedlar further accuses today’s Serbia of allegedly trying to blame Albanians from Kosovo for all of the above-facts — which is absolutely not substantiated by any valid documentation. Sedlar also blames Serbia at the time for the fact that Serbia was nearly cleared of Jews, and for using a ‘dušegupke,’ a well-known truck whose exhaust pipe was connected to a cabin carrying Jews. The truck was used in Serbia to kill Jews transported from the Old Fairgrounds (in the territory of the then Croatia, under German rule) to open pits below the Avale Mountains. However, the trucks came from Germany and the identity of the drivers, who were also German, is known. Sedlar, however, blames Serbia for all of that.” the World Jewish Congress concluded. [This truck was also used to kill Serbian civilians of Croatia.]
We contacted Mr. Sedlar, the director of the movie ‘Embrace the Fate’, to comment on the allegations made above and offer his side of the story:
“The film ‘Embrace Destiny – Albanians and Jews’ was made to explain for the first time, by way of the medium of film, the connection between the Albanian and Jewish people, especially during the Holocaust. The text was written by two serious people who know more about the subject than I do. I had no reason to disbelieve them,” Sedlar says, continuing: “[We await] the reactions from Israeli people who deal with this topic and who are the best experts on relations between Jews and Albanians, including Felicita Jakoel, who was the first Jew to move to Israel after the fall of communism in Albania, where she still lives today. The film will soon be screened in Israel and around the world,” says Sedlar.
Sedlar has only learned of World Jewish Congress’s allegations from our query and, although he does not rule out the possibility of an error, he believes that dragging Croatia into the subject of the film, which has nothing to do with it, is pointless.
“For the first time, I hear someone objecting to the facts brought out in the movie. Of course, there can always be some mistake that, if proven, needs to be corrected, but it is definitely pointless to drag Croatia into this story about the destruction of the Jewish community. The theme of the film is Kosovo – (which from 1918 until recent liberation was part of Serbia in every sense) and Albania. Croats and any Croatian state have nothing to do with this,” Sedlar says.
To the allegations of a connection between Serbia and anti-Semitism, Sedlar replies:
“A small part of the film talks about anti-Semitism in Serbia, and the reason is the explanation of the suffering of Jews in Kosovo, which was under the direct jurisdiction of Nedic’s Nazi regime.* This is a well-known fact that cannot be erased, despite the fact that has been attempted on the Serbian side for decades. Among other things, German Commander Harold Turner, in 1942 reported to Berlin that Serbia, under Nedić, was the first ‘judenfrei’ state in Europe.
Independent of anyone, this film will have a life of its own and will be part of the evidence of the great and honorable history of the Albanian people in saving the Jews during their immense suffering in the Holocaust,” Sedlar points out.
About the unsuccessful invitation to download the screening of the film from the program of the Jewish Film Festival in New York and the response of the audience to the screening of the film, Mr. Sedlar says:
“The Zagreb team tried to stop the film telling the truth about the history of Albanian-Jewish relations, but the festival director who watched the film two months ago when he picked it, just laughed at their request. The hall was full, and in the end, there was a big round of applause. Three hundred viewers received the movie brilliantly, Everything went great.”
*To the contrary, Belgrade in that period was under the control of the Independent State of Croatia (NDH), headed by Nedić, a Nazi quisling. “On 25 March 1941, the government of regent Crown Prince Paul signed the Tripartite Pact, joining the Axis powers in an effort to stay out of the Second World War and keep Yugoslavia neutral during the conflict. This was immediately followed by mass protests in Belgrade and a military coup d’état led by Air Force commander General Dušan Simović, who proclaimed King Peter II to be of age to rule the realm. [The Wehrmacht was expelled from Belgrade by the mass uprising of civilians.] Consequently, the city was heavily bombed by the Luftwaffe on 6 April 1941, when up to 24,000 people were killed. Yugoslavia was then invaded by German, Italian, Hungarian, and Bulgarian forces, Belgrade was occupied by the German Army on 13 April 1941 and suburbs as far east as Zemun, in the Belgrade metropolitan area, were incorporated into a Nazi state, the Independent State of Croatia. Belgrade became the seat of the Nedić regime, headed by General Milan Nedić.” — https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Belgrade
Nedić is reported to have received the respect of neither Nazis nor Serbians. His stated goal was to save as many Serbs as possible, 50 of whom were being slaughtered for every German killed by Serbs.— JRI