The Catholic Churches of Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia, despite widespread condemnation, are planning to hold a public mass on May 16 in Sarajevo for Croatia's pro-Nazi collaborators and civilians killed by communist partisans at the end of World War II.
The commemoration, usually held every May near the southern Austrian town of Bleiburg, was canceled this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Bosnian and Croatian churches have stepped in and are organizing the event under the auspices of the Croatian parliament, which in 2016 reintroduced state sponsorship of the commemoration after having revoked it in 2012 amid criticism that it was rehabilitating the Nazi-allied Ustasha regime.
Sarajevo Archbishop Vinko Puljic is due to hold the mass in the cathedral of the Bosnian capital.
All three members of Bosnia's tripartite presidency, along with most political parties and nongovernmental organizations, as well as the Serbian Orthodox Church, Jewish leaders, and the U.S. and Israeli embassies have condemned the event.
The war-time Independent State of Croatia (NDH) controlled by the Nazi-backed Ustasha included Bosnia and parts of Serbia. The Ustasha persecuted and killed hundreds of thousands of Serbs, Jews, and anti-Nazi Croatians.
At the end of the war, the Ustasha, accompanied by civilians and Slovenian and Serbian collaborators, fled towards Austria, but British forces there refused their surrender.