Wishing You A Blessed Advent!

ARCHBISHOP ALOJZIJE STEPINAC IN THE DOCK

This year of 2021 the Advent begins on Sunday 28 November, and we prepare for the birth of Jesus. And in that preparation for the birth of Jesus I trust and pray that The Holy Father Pope Francis will reconsider the role he maintains the Serb Orthodox Church has in the canonisation of Croatia’s WWII Archbishop of Zagreb, Alojzije Stepinac, Blessed Alojzije Stepinac since October 1998 when Saint John Paul II, then Pope, beatified him.

With this article I step back in the time of October 1946 when the Yugoslav communists (among whom was an overwhelming number of Orthodox Serbs) wrongfully convicted the Archbishop, wrongfully treating him, wrongfully accusing and convicting him and others so that the communist regime may do what it pleased and that sick “pleasure” was in mass killings of Croats who fought for independence as well as women and children and the elderly.

Hence, I have here transcribed an article from the renowned newspaper The Scotsman, drawn to my attention by Dr Esther Gitman, the historian who has performed thorough research about Stepinac’s many activities in rescuing Jews, Serbs and others from sure death in the whirlwind of political and aggressive madness of WWII. 

The Scotsman (1921-1950); Oct 18, 1946; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The Scotsman

pg. 4

“An Archbishop in the dock

Trial of the Yugoslav Primate

By Patrick Maitland

“To reaffirm faith in the fundamental human rights, in the dignity and value of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women,” the United Nations signed the San Francisco Charter.

The above is the phrase in the Charter Preamble, to which Mr Dean Acheson, Acting U.S. Secretary of State, called attention last weekend with reference to the Zagreb trial of Monsignor Stepinac, Archbishop of Zagreb and Catholic Primate of Yugoslavia, on seven counts. “It is the civil liberties part of the thing which causes us concern,” he said.

The Archbishop was sentenced to sixteen years hard labour on charges of collaboration with the puppet Croat regime of the Ustashi leader, Pavelic, during the war, of responsibility for compelling Serbs, members of the Orthodox Church, to become Roman Catholics; of becoming Chaplain-General to the puppet Croat Army; of conspiring with Dr Matchek, the (now-exiled) leader of the Croat Peasants’ Party, with General Mihailovitch and others; and of issuing a pastoral letter on the eve of the Yugoslav  general elections last year, “falsely depicting the state of affairs in Yugoslavia and encouraging the Ustashi and other traitors to commit further crimes.”

 Mr Dean Acheson’s comment said the worrying aspects raised questions “as to whether the trial has any implications looking toward impairment of freedom of religion and of worship”; and he pointed out that, for example, the Supreme Court of the United States had always set aside as illegal all trials “in Courtrooms dominated by feelings adverse to the defendant by demonstrations of prejudice.”

No transcript of the trial has yet reached Britain, and one is eagerly awaited, for not only has the judgment provoked the first excommunication of the head of a State in more than a century, but this is the first occasion within recent years when an Archbishop has been brought before a lay court and so condemned on what amount of political charges.

The trial comes at a time when the world is looking for implementation of the Four Freedoms which are enshrined in the United Nations Charter, and when the Nuremberg Tribunal has set an all-time model for the dispensation of justice without prejudice.

TENDENTIOUS REPORTS

In the absence of a full report on the trial, it is worth noticing that agency reports from the Courtroom, and the reports issued by Tanjug, the Yugoslav official news agency, paint a fairly consistent picture. The Associated Press reported that a number of witnesses desired by the defence were never called. And the Archiepiscopal defendant was only one of several. It was a collective trial after the manner of that of General Mihailovitch whereat, also, the calling of a number of witnesses desired by the defence was ruled out of order.

The Tanjug reports would have brought an instant writ for contempt if they had been published in Great Britain during a British trial. Here are some excerpts: The defendants’ “witnesses mostly discredited the intention of defence counsel by the contradictory testimony … they were nonplussed when the Public Prosecutor proved” &c.: “Stepinac declared he did not want to answer questions put to him, in the first place in connection with the proofs of his criminal activities”; of a reference by the defence to alleged forced conversions: “Here Stepinac is using sophistry and verbalism … He did not speak of his Ustashi activity.”

Another day Tanjug incorporated into its report the phrases: “Despite all the proofs piled up against him” and made this reference to the “Caritas” organisation: “although it had been proved that the society was a lair of robbery.” Again: “The Judge dealt with Stepinac’s anti-national activities just before the liberation.”

No matter how grave the charges, the mere incorporation of these and kindred phrases in the report of the official news agency tends to bear out the implication of Mr Dean Acheson’s suspicion that the atmosphere in which the trial was conducted was hostile to the defendant.

ARCHBISHOP’S SPEECH

Mgr. Stepinac’s speech in defence has not been published abroad, save a few short phrases. It is fair to conclude that the foreign correspondents covering the trial, especially American correspondents writing for a Press which must cater for a considerable Catholic readership, tried to report this. The obvious conclusion is that the censor interfered. The Vatican organ. Osservatore Romano, however, clearly obtained at least some passages of the Archbishop’s speech, for it was able on October 5 to reproduce the following passage: –

“You speak of liberty and of religion in Yugoslavia and you say there is more liberty in the country than ever before. I reply that a great number of priests have been killed. You could have arrested them, but you have not the right to put them to death. The people of the country will never forget this. There has never been a greater scandal. Not a single bishop, not a single priest in the country knows in the morning if he will see the light of the next dawn. You ask for our loyalty and we ourselves are obliged to ask you to respect the least of our rights.”

That passage, coupled with those cited above from Tanjug account, give some idea of the tense atmosphere of the whole proceedings and how the trial was principally a test of political loyalties. While the trial was in progress the Press was forbidden to refer to any of Mgr. Stepinac’s deeds during the enemy occupation, when he is known to have given asylum to refugees of every race and creed who approached him. Among them were members of the present Government. Jews, Orthodox Serbs, Moslems, were repeatedly saved from death by his direct intervention. This much is known.

But the extent of the Archbishop’s personal popularity in Croatia can possibly be gauged from the fact that throughout the trial, the Zagreb churches were packed with people praying for him, and on October 2 the civil authorities banned assemblies of more than five persons outside any church. The ban is reminiscent of those attempted by Pavelich regime when, during the occupation, the Archbishop’s fiery denunciation of Nazi tyranny drew such crowds that he was compelled to preach from outside his Cathedral instead of within it.

“FORCED CONVERSIONS” 

Of the charges laid against the Archbishop, several are unsavoury. The most disagreeable was clearly the allegation that he had encouraged, or at the very least consented to, “forced conversions”. That many thousands of Orthodox Serbs living in Croatia were, in fact, compelled to join the Roman Catholic Church there is virtually bo doubt. But there is doubt about the nature of the force used. And a revealing letter reached the writer a few weeks ago from a Zagreb Serb giving a version hitherto unknown in this country. According to this source, the Pavelich regime issued decrees instituting certain civil disabilities for Orthodox, Jews and Protestants. The decrees constituted an inducement to the careless to abandon their church allegiance and join the Catholic Church with menial reservations.

This letter explains that the Orthodox Serbs of Croatia are actually deeply grateful to the Archbishop because he revised the formularies to which it is customary for a convert to assent in such a way as to make this nominal transfer of loyalty easier and less humiliating to those making the change from motives of security. To such folk, this writer asserts, the Catholic Archbishop was a hero and a protector.

This letter is not mentioned in any attempt to whittle away the evil of the practices which went on in outlying parts. In many parts of Bosnia the procedure was horrible and degrading. But the Archbishops defence has not been heard by the outside world, and this surprising tribute has been written from the centre of the crimes with which he was charged. It nay be worth adding that the Archbishop has been personally known to the writer over a period of years, and has always appeared a man of such deep sincerity that the charge of approving forced conversions would, on the face of it, seem monstrous.

A significant feature of the trial was the white heat of the propaganda with which it was surrounded. The writings and public statements made during the Mihailovitch trial are pale by comparison. The campaign was inaugurated by Marshal Tito hikself in a speech st Split on July 27. “All traces of an artificially produced dissatisfaction (with the regime) emanate from under the cassock,” he said. “To-day, sundry saints and miracles have come to the fore. Now what miracles do we need? We shall create these miracles ourselves by our own labour. Our people are no longer so stupid as to be duped by tales about saints and miracles. Let the saints remain in their churches where they belong.”

POLITICAL MOTIVE    

But the motive again and again appears to be political. For in another speech a few days later Marshal Tito revealed to this matter: “There are in Croatia, Serbia, and in other parts of the country priests among those men who are spreading discord among the people … Only a small part of the Catholic clergy goes with the people to-day; a far greater part goes against the people … They have again begun to spread hatred among Serbs and Croats.”

Reports which have lately reached London through uncensored channels – there is now a fairly steady flow of visitors moving back and forth – bring out a particular feature of the present situation. On the one hand, what the Serbs call the “repovi” – the “tails” of Yugoslavia – are generally speaking satisfied with the new regime. There is little talk of discontent in Slovenia, which is in a fair way to acquiring fresh territory in Venezia Giulia, and which is hopefully looking forward to the presentation of a formal claim to incorporate the Klagenfurt area of Carinthia.

The Montenegrins have little to complain of for they played a leading part in the National Liberation Movement from the start and have in general received a heavy share of the good jobs. The Macedonians in the South have won local home rule, and at least till lately enjoyed considerable freedom to defy the orders of Belgrade. Bosnia and Herzegovina have been flattered, likewise, with a degree of home rule. But from throughout Serbia and Croatia, which together must form the kernel of the newly federated State, constant if inarticulate opposition is reported.

It is purely a surmise, but available evidence and many straws in the wind suggest it, that the overall purpose of the Zagreb trial was to whip up Serb hatred against Croats – the cardinal weakness of the pre-war kingdom which enabled the dictatorship to prolong its tyrannical power.

Ina Vukic

New Film: US Airmen POW’s And Humane Glory Of Independent State Of Croatia 1941 to 1945

Not only should we all watch this thoroughly well-made and fact-based film about the events of the Independent State of Croatia that underpinned the Croatian spirit for independence, but we should secure a copy of this film by purchasing it and gifting it to our children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren born in the Croatian diaspora after World War Two as well as those born in Croatia.

The film covers moving stories of the kind and considerate treatment in Croatia of US Airmen shot down over Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina during the Second World War and held as POWs by the Croatian forces and it also tells of the terror and suffering of Croats by the Serbian Monarchy dictatorship in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia that gave Croats no choice but to fight for independence and dear life.

Nikola Knez, Croatian American film maker, director of documentaries on the Croatian Operation Storm (from August 1995) and the Bleiburg Tragedy (from May 1945), has directed and together with Damir O. Rados produced a new film titled:

The “American POW’s in Croatia 1941 – 1945”.

I asked Nikola a couple of days ago what prompted him to direct and produce this documentary film:

Considering that I am a part of the generation born during the communist Yugoslavia, for many years I was exposed to the educational and propaganda intellectual-psychological treatment of Tito’s ideological criminal one-mindedness. Lies and deceptions, turning good into evil were everyday tools aimed at hiding and obscuring the truth, depriving those who want to build the world, especially the Croatian Statehood, of common sense and historically correct facts. When I received materials about American pilots who resided, lived, and survived as prisoners of war in the Independent State of Croatia, I knew that this was not only a great story but also part of the light of truth that would dispel some of the dark deceptions to which the Croatian people were exposed for decades.

The truth, which is revealed in this film, not only means exposing the communist-Yugoslav lies to which we have been exposed for 75 years, but it also makes us realise how just our people were, which is yet another foundation for a free and independent Croatian state through the centuries to come. With this film, I also wanted to point out that during the Second World War, the Independent State of Croatia (NDH) found itself under the influence of foreign powers. In the conditions of the struggle for survival, defence, and preservation of its natural territorial territory, it became an incredible host and protector of almost a hundred American pilots who crashed over Croatian territory and were captured by members of the NDH armed forces.

Through the personal testimonies of several prisoners of war and a young American priest who was put at the centre of all these events by faith and war, the film testifies first-hand to the events and gives us an insight into the true state of historical facts. The film relies on the research of Charles Michael McAdams, a historian, US Marine and friend of the Croatian people.

The American pilots survived, not by accident, but thanks to the intervention and protection offered by the political and military leadership of the Independent State of Croatia, as well as religious leaders and the citizens of Croatia themselves. Although all American pilots returned home safely at the end of the war, this was not the case with a large number of Croats who were massacred by Tito’s partisans. Croatian Air Lieutenant Dubai (Dubac), who tried to negotiate with the partisans on the transfer of American pilots to a safe zone, was shot on the spot by the partisans,” replied Knez.

What do you think are the main messages of this film, I also asked Nikola Knez:

 “The main message of this film is a testimony of the truth that breaks the false deceptions about the Independent State of Croatia. At the same time, the film itself is an invitation to people not to give up in search of the truth, to educate themselves about their history, to think for themselves and to reject as ready solutions the worldview ideological postulates to which we are exposed through media services, educational institutions, and political activism.

Although all American pilots were returned home after the war, their story was kept aside in America itself, i.e., it was not used in positive examples that would indicate the human and humane character of Croats and the Independent State of Croatia. Instead, the narrative of the British puppet state of Yugoslavia was accepted, which, although created and founded on crimes, gained legitimacy while its maintenance was possible only with the help of intellectual lobotomy, production of fear, terror and lies. Although this artificial political creation began with the terrible sacrifice of Bleiburg and ended its existence with the sacrifice of Vukovar, its Yugoslav like-minded people are still fighting to prevent the truth from seeing the light of day.

Hence, this unique testimony given in the film is a great example of breaking the cult of communist-Yugoslav structures. Why is this important? Because history is repeating itself again. Today, we are living witnesses of how media-political propaganda are trying to turn the honourable and defensive Homeland War from a just war into the opposite. A media campaign has been intensified in which the victim is found guilty, and the crime committed by the Serb aggressor is placed on the level of a justified act. The right of the Croatian people to freedom and statehood is denied. The same process prevailed during Yugoslavia. We must all be aware that military victory in the Homeland War is a big part of achieving our statehood, but the overall struggle in all fields for the survival of our nation is a present and future determinant whose course we must constantly follow in the light of freedom, unity and building richer, happier, better and a stronger Croatian society.

The right to life, liberty and homeland are postulates shared by all peoples of the civilised world. We Croats have been fighting for the same high ideals for centuries. It is important to keep that awareness alive and not allow other people’s interests to rule with deceit our right to our sovereignty. We should strive to set, speak, and bear witness to the truth about our great people and honourable history with positive examples. As American citizens and as Croats throughout the diaspora, we acknowledge and thank Croatian political, military, and religious participants as well as individual citizens of the time for their determination, courage, and humanity, a full 75 years later,” replied Knez.

Aptly, before the matters covered in the film it begins with reminding us of George Orwell’s renowned saying: “In an age of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”

And then the film contains these well articulated statements of facts pertaining to the history of Independent State of Croatia (NDH 1941-1945) that clearly delineate what occurred prior, during and after World War Two for freedom-loving Croatians and include the following quotations from the film:

In 1941 as Word War Two raged the city of Zagreb was the capital of the Independent State of Croatia. For centuries Croatia had sought unsuccessfully to realise its destiny as a fully independent nation embodying the fundamental principles of freedom, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Although Croatia had achieved independence World War Two was a complex time of domestic and foreign aggression, dubious allegiances, and conflicting interests. The Independent State of Croatia (NDH) found itself under the influence of both the German and the Italian military and police formations. The well-financed Serbian paramilitary Chetniks and Tito’s Stalin-backed communists the young Croatian state faced those challenges at the military, political and diplomatic levels. One could argue that no other nation drawn into World War Two experienced as many conflicts of competing interests within the confines of its borders as did the tiny nation of Croatia; that beautiful piece of real estate nestled along the Adriatic coast.  

Over the course if the War Croatia became the unlikely host and protector of nearly a hundred of US Airmen who had crash-landed there and had been taken prisoner by the Croatian Armed Forces. The fate of the American POW’s lay in the uncertainties of military and political drama that was unfolding. Through the personal accounts of the several of the POW’s as well as that of a young American priest fate and war placed in their midst, we follow the advance that transpired…”

… Under one name or another for 23 years the most brutal methods of the times were sanctioned, financed, and imposed on the Croatian people by the Serbian King Alexander and Peter II governments in Belgrade involving the dissolution of the centuries old Croatian Parliament and the abolition of municipalities, provinces, schools, and judicial systems. The arbitrary and capricious military imposition of taxes, the nationalisation of state properties including forests, mines, public buildings, and monetary fund.  Systematic denial of Croatian language and the arrogant theft of Croatian culture.  Sanctioned and financed the Serbian paramilitary terrorism on Croatian soil, violation of human rights, denial of free speech, due process, assembly, and suffrage. The list of grievances was long and real. By any definition this is genocide in progress…”

Proudly – on 10 April 1941 the birth of the Independent State of Croatia was proclaimed with Dr Ante Pavelic, the exiled revolutionary leader of the Croatian Uprisers (Ustashe), at its helm. The proclamation was received with enthusiasm by the Croatian people and was seen as a victory after 23 years of Serbian genocidal policies towards the Croatian people. The call for liberation was clear and seen as just.

After the proclamation of the Independent State o Croatia the loosely organised students, workers and intelligencia deposed the Yugoslav government with minimal casualties before the arrival of the first contingents of German and Italian armies, their political attaches and diplomatic core. Croatia was de facto and de jure recognised by 25 states and legations in Europe, Asia, and the Americas… 

Croatia wanted its independence, Italy wanted Croatia to become its colony, Germany accepted Croatia’s independence with the expectation that Croatia will be incorporated into the domain of the Reich to counteract Italian expansion. Croatia’s thirteen-hundred-year dream of independence was shattered.

Occupied and facing the domestic rise of Tito’s communists the country became a killing ground. With American entry into the war American planes joined the air war, bombing German sites. Many US bombers hit by German flag were suffering heavy damage in aerial combat with German air force flew over Croatia as they attempted to return to Italy from their bombing missions. American bombers crash-landed all across the Croatian territory. Those airmen who survived were picked up by the regular Croatian Army and treated as prisoners of war/POW’s.”

“… All of the American POW airmen remained safe and protected until the end of the war when they were safely repatriated to their units. Their protectors did not fare as well. The war and its aftermath were costly; Croatian population was decimated, their political system scarred deeply…”

Many of Croatian airmen were killed by Tito’s partisans after the war ended. Croatian air commander Vladimir Dubai who tried to negotiate with the partisans for the transfer of US airmen to a safe zone was shot on the spot. May he and other Croatians who gave our American pilots safe shelter during those harsh times forever be remembered for their bravery and their kindness.”   Ina Vukic

Click on the Red Button to watch the film or on the Yellow to purchase a copy.

 http://hfi.mobi/page-10.html

Click on this link for the film version with Croatian subtitles as well as to purchase a copy. http://hfi.mobi/page-3.html

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