Croatia: government’s deafening silence for victims of totalitarian regimes

August 23rd was/is the European Day for the Remembrance of the Victims of Totalitarian Regimes (Nazi, Communist and Fascist regimes alike).

The silence from the Croatian government and Croatian president (all of whom are from the former Yugoslav communists breed) on that day was so painfully deafening that it took me days to recover.

No official State ceremonies occurred and president Ivo Josipovic might think he has done a great job in diverting media attention from victims of communist regime by keeping the flame alit on his public row with the president of the Independent Democratic Serb Party/SDSS in Croatia Milorad Pupovac. While a small number of representatives of some Croatian Serbian organisations have visited Josipovic during the past few days, theatrically patting him on the shoulder “for standing up against Pupovac” it is more than obvious that such a scenario has been staged in an effort to give Josipovic’s latest antics on integration of Croatian Serbs into Croatian citizenship some label of credibility.

I mean, where was Josipovic before this week on the issue? Why did he not invite the other Croatian Serb leaders to his office before?

So the Croatian Serb position, the mud-slinging match between Josipovic and Pupovac, maintained its annoying impetus with a deluge during the day when pivotal attention to victims of Communist, Nazi and Fascist crimes should have been the primary outpour from the government and from the office of the president.

But then, like Josipovic, Pupovac comes from staunch communist echelons of former Yugoslavia and neither cared much for taking pause and bowing to all victims of totalitarian regimes.

One cannot but conclude that were they able to pay tribute to victims of just the Fascist and Nazi regimes, without the need to pay tribute to victims of the Communist regime, then Croatia would have seen a good share of official ceremonies and “fanfare”.

Josipovic posted a press release, or should I say cold lip-service, on his presidential website:

“…In the 20th Century, Europe had, unfortunately, been the cradle for some of these totalitarian ideologies: Nazism, Fascism and Communism, especially in its Stalinist form… From the beginning of my mandate I advocate for the politics of full and unreserved respect for all victims of totalitarian and authoritarian regimes, regardless of the circumstance under which someone had become an innocent victim of extremism. Every victim deserves full dignity, and the families of the victims deserve our care and help. The victims of past wars, the Holocaust, of extremism against minorities, the victimisation during post-war period, the victimisation during the Homeland war, as well as other victims of intolerance and aggression remain a permanent reminder that we must always and incessantly work towards preserving peace and democracy, as well as in stopping aggression and totalitarian tendencies. Let there be eternal glory for innocent victims, whom we shall remember always.

Needless to say, the government of Croatia led by Social Democrat Zoran Milanovic has completely ignored the European Day for the Remembrance of the Victims of Totalitarian Regimes and had not even bothered to publish a single word on the matter.

The Croatian Parliament had in April 2012, when it voted to remove government sponsorship over the commemoration of Bleiburg victims, carried the motion to more actively mark the Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Totalitarian Regimes. But they’ve done absolutely nothing in organising events that would pay tribute to the innocent victims of all the the totalitarian regimes Croatia had suffered.

In these circumstances,” says journalist Vjekoslav Krsnik of Dnevno.hr , “commemorating today’s day (23 August) has fallen upon opposition political parties … as well as upon various citizens’ organisations which, of course, means that indeed the conscience about the need to commemorate this European Day of Remembrance exists in Croatia. However, until that becomes a part of national politics at official levels, when it comes to the question of communist crimes, given that the other (crimes) have already been well marked, (communist crimes) will continue to be the black spot of Europe, especially with this neo-Communist lot in government.”

Given that victims of Fascist and Nazi crimes have, justly, been remembered with dignity victims deserve it is sadly still on us, as human beings or ordinary citizens, not to forget the victims of Communist crimes. If governments of the day ignore omit organising official commemorations to all victims of all totalitarian regimes then such governments have absolutely no place in the 21st Century of the world which calls itself democratic and free.

While several places in Croatia held August 23 commemorations in respect of the European Day for the Remembrance of Victims of Totalitarian Regimes (without the presence of government’s representatives), the laying of wreaths on the island of Daksa (near Dubrovnik) as tribute to victims of communist crimes serves as a reminder of the cruel ways communist Partisans murdered those who were not for communist Yugoslavia but for independent Croatia. The priest, Don Petar Perica was among dozens of innocent Croatians murdered or dumped alive from Daksa’s high cliffs into their death by Communist Partisans. Don Perica’s worst “crime” as far as the communists were concerned was the fact that he wrote the Church Hymn “Heavenly Virgin, the Queen of Croats”.

Video: Tudor Singers Choir from Cardiff, Wales, singing “Heavenly Virgin, the queen of Croats” at St Eusebius and Pollio church in Vinkovci, Croatia, 19 July 2008

Translation of the lyrics: Hello, Virgin, full of all graces, the shine of eternal sun drapes you. A starry crown around your forehead, under your feet moans the dragon of hell. Heavenly Virgin, the queen of Croats, our Mother, our sunrise of gold, receive the gift of your devoted hearts, receive the pure flame of love of our hearts. Blessed are you, because you’re all pure, the breath of the snake does not surround your chest! The star of joy may shine upon us too, nights of sin darkness will disperse! Heavenly Virgin, the queen of Croats, our Mother, our sunrise of gold, receive the gift of your devoted hearts, receive the pure flame of love of our hearts.  

Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

Comments

  1. Luís Ribeiro says:
    • Thank you Immr1964, your links regarding commemorating victims of totalitarian regimes across Europe are most appreciated. Thank you for caring. It pleases me enormously to read in one of the links that Croatia’s Justice Minister was to attend the conference “Facing the Past” held on 23rd August in Hungary; have not come across any statements etc by him or Croatia’s government regarding the outcome of the conference but suffice to say it’s one of potent ways that we who still remember, who saw, who felt the terror of totalitarian regimes in Europe can clear the path for our descendants towards truth and peace. Anyone who labels such attempts regarding communist crimes (and there are plenty of those still among us) as historical revisionism are cowards and live in utterly desperate delusions of communist grandeur that cannot be tolerated – for victims sake. If history must be revisited – and it must for truth’s sake – that can only be good and welcome.

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  2. The leftist Government and President of Croatia are truly a disgrace in this regard; many other regards, too. If it were not for the complete moral collapse of the HDZ the Socialist parties of Croatia would never have come to power. Ask yourself, what has Milanovic ever done to deserve anything other than a kick in the rear?

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  3. Ina, Do you have a raison d’etre for this blog? I have read the most recent articles and, of course, view them in the context of “CROATIA, THE WAR, AND THE FUTURE”. However, the undertow of your work here seems less than obvious, can you make some kind of header/overview of why you write the things you do? Surely it would be better than asking observers to guess your motivation.

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    • Thanks Pavao, yes I do have a raison d’etre (reason for existence) of this blog and that reason i summarised in one phrase “seek truth” (about Croatia) in the footer of each page. The main motivation lies in love for truth, justice for all and Croatia.

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    • Pavao…the title of the blog is quite self explanatory…it’s about Croatia specifically…about the war…and the about the future of Croatia. It is a wide and deep blog about the things that matter to Croatia…it’s about truth and justice for Croatians and Croatia. If you have an issue write about it, provide your point of view, support it with facts and let’s have a productive dialogue.

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      • 🙂

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      • Hi Sunman, I am an expat living in Croatia and, naturally enough, I have an interest in learning about the circumstances of people’s lives and how today’s realities came about. I get viewpoints from various sources so my question about motivation was aimed at understanding Ina’s blog and from which direction it comes. Everyone sells their own truths and all claim to be in the centre but, in my experience, none are. I have no complaints about my sources having one or another axe to grind but I do feel it important that I understand the over-arching view held by the contributors.
        As questions arise in my mind, I will come back here and seek views but only if I understand the standpoint of the people here, after all, we all speak the truth but somehow, one person’s truth is often vehemently contradicted by the next. From reading the posts (I can’t read everything) I am getting the idea that these pages are generally populated by pro Catholic, pro nationalist and anti Communist views. There’s nothing wrong with that, I just want to be clear about it. Just saying “it’s the truth” isn’t going to cut it.

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      • I need to reply to this Pavao. I personally am not selling anything and if you read my posts you will notice that I provide links etc as to sources of information. There is only ONE truth, anything else is not the truth when one talks about or refers to facts. Opinion however can vary between individuals that deal with same facts. As far as pro or anti communist that is actually not an issue but what is the issue is what actually happened under communism for a society and how that society has developed especially when it comes to responsibility of individual citizens towards a greater good. The fact that communist crimes occurred on a large scale is no secret. It is as I see it completely unacceptable for humanity to justify crimes against humanity using a political justification. Hence, innocent victims of all political or otherwise regimes or persuasions MUST receive justice. A healthy society cannot progress unless this is recognised. Countries in Europe that were during WWII and after struck by totalitarian regimes must deal with this issue. People at large are no sheep, they know when double standards exist and when these must be rectified for the sake of peace of mind at least. Croatia like other countries had the situation where both “Fascist” and “Communists” fought for their goals. Both murdered innocent people and yet only the “Fascists” were criminally prosecuted and the communists weren’t. This must be corrected for justice sake. And I am not talking of people who perished as soldiers of either side in the fighting during battles, as they are casualties of war, I’m talking about the innocents. There’s nothing wrong with being a nationalist – I and many equate that term with national pride and belonging and identity; in Croatia somehow through decades after WWII to say you are a Croatian was somehow not the thing to do because if you did you were automatically labelled as an Ustashe. Nothing could be furthest from the truth – loving Croatia has NOTHING to do with political persuasion. Catholicism is in the genes of Croatian people and I can only be proud of that, many do not practice Catholicism and that is their choice, no one wishes to convert anyone but Catholicism is in the profile of the Croatian nation, in tradition. Communism is a political choice and everyone has a right to subscribe to any political movement etc they wish, that’s the beauty of democracy. Personally, I look at communism through the spectrum of how it operated in the streets, how it shaped the people, how it tried to shape the people, and how some of the ingrained behaviours from communist era have an effect on progress in democracy. Certainly, when it comes to the crimes committed against innocent people and covered up or justified with political rhetoric then I’m anti any such political persuasion that rejects responsibility and accountability for crimes committed; indeed if the value of human life is defined by political regimes, as it seems it has been the case with totalitarian regimes, then I’ll stay a strong opponent to those regimes whatever they are or were until such day when all victims receive their due justice. I’m quite certain that most hold this view.

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  4. Michael Silovic says:

    (Quoted by Pavo) I am getting the idea that these pages are generally populated by pro Catholic, pro nationalist and anti Communist views.

    Welcome Pavo! Your comments above describe me to the T, as I am all of the above. I make no apology for this either. In fact you can say I am pretty much a fascist with a strong belief in a Croatia First Policy which would supersede any declaration of our current government policies that does not benefit the Croatian people first and fore most. Since you are an expat living in Croatia and, naturally enough, have an interest in learning about the circumstances of people’s lives and how today’s realities came about I would suggest that you first start by looking at and understanding the history of the Croatian people as a whole and her history. The Croatian people and not Yugoslavian history! Once you begin to understand our history you will come to realize that what you read here is an attempt to correct all the fabrication that has been perpetrated against the Croatian people with falsehoods. Too often I have noticed that expats try to understand Croatians by sitting at the seaside listing to gossip and coming to a conclusion with out witnessing the rest of the country and its heritage and culture.The best way to understand and find the truth is to search for the truth as what is being done here and once you find and understand the truth then you need to correct those who are not telling the truth. Just because you find those who are pro Catholic, pro nationalist and anti Communist does not mean that the truth is not being searched for or told.

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