Even if, after thoroughly studying the victims of the Holocaust (some 11 million, 6 million of which were Jews) and the victims of WWII and post-WWII communist crimes (some 100 million), one concludes that the Nazis and their collaborators were worse criminals than the Communists, that still does not justify the massive size and inhumanity of the difference between the enormous attention paid to the crimes of the former and the appalling neglect of the latter.
During the weekend that has just passed Croatia has been confronted with the utterly ugly face of government and politically ideological discrimination against victims of horrible communist crimes. The feeling one could pick-up on the streets is that Croatia is at volatile crossroads where there seem to be only two possible outcomes: an oppressive and socially insensitive political system (akin the one that was under communist Yugoslavia) will entrench itself further into the corridors of power – and therefore society, or that those who hold the rights of all victims above all else (including political scoring) will rebel ferociously against the government that evidently has little if any empathy with Croatian suffering; be it suffering from WWII pro-Nazi collaborators or suffering from Communists and their collaborators.
Croatia’s Prime Minister, Zoran Milanovic, said on Saturday 11 May that he was not going to attend any of the two commemorations – one marking the 68th Anniversary of victims of WWII and post-WWII Bleiburg massacres by Croatian/Yugoslav communist Partisans, and the other marking Jasenovac camp extermination by pro-Nazi Croatian Ustashe forces) because “the competition between the two spreads intolerance…”
For the Croatian Prime Minister, therefore, paying respects to the victims of WWII is an act of intolerance … spreading hatred (?)!
A commemoration marking the 68th anniversary of the mass murders of soldiers of the 1941-45 Independent State of Croatia (NDH) and civilians by communist Partisans was held at Bleiburg field in Austria on Saturday 11 May. Some 10,000 people from all over the world gathered and remembered. Croatian government sent no one; Croatian President Ivo Josipovic did not attend nor did he send representatives. The Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ),main party in opposition, representative, Virovitica-Podravina County Prefect Tomislav Tolusic of said that “the ideological descendants of the criminals who committed these crimes in the aftermath of World War II are today still trying to rewrite history“.
“Ideological scions of those same criminals responsible for Bleiburg and the death marches are again trying to conceal their crimes, downplay them, and push them into oblivion as well as to smear the victims. The members of that same batch do the same not only with Bleiburg but also with the Homeland Defence War,” Tolusic said.
On Sunday 12 May in Jasenovac, a commemoration was held to mark the 68th anniversary of the breakout of inmates from the Jasenovac concentration camp, which had been run by the Nazi-style Ustasha regime from 1941 to 1945. The commemoration called for permanent remembrance of the victims so that similar crimes would never again recur.
Croatia’s President Ivo Jospipovic attended the Jasenovac commemoration. During his speech President Josipovic called for thwarting any attempt to revive the ideology of the Holocaust and ideologies directed against other people only because they are of different ethnic or religious background.
“We must not forget the experiences from Jasenovac, the Holocaust and the Ustasha ideology (of the 1941-1945 pro-Nazi Independent State of Croatia, NDH) and we must not forget that the members of the Croatian people participated in them”, Josipovic said, recalling that according to the statistics of the camp, 83,301 victims were killed in the camp complex in Jasenovac, and the victims were Serbs, Jews, Roma, Bosniaks as well as Croats whom the then regime deemed to be enemies to the Ustasha ideology.
President Josipovic also said that the Croatians “can be proud of their anti-Fascist movement the victory over Nazism and of those of them who stood against crimes“. That victory (in WW II) and our victory in the (1991-1995) Homeland Defence War are the foundations of the present-day Croatian state that is about to join the European Union as a full member, Josipovic emphasised.
Well, if the truth was like Josipovic said then that truth is only half-baked. The truth is that the anti-Fascist WWII victory came with even worse crimes committed by them than what Ustashe/pro-Nazi crimes stand for.
The truth is that anti-Fascists hide their ugly crimes by emphasizing the crimes of Ustashe.
The truth is that anti-Fascists glorify the horrid of atrocities committed by them during and after WWII!
Who wants to be proud of such a history where one criminal blames the other, and victims of one receive no justice while the victims of the other get it all?
And all fail to speak of the multitudes of Croats who wanted nothing to do with one criminal or the other!
Indeed there is competition between the two, as Prime Minister said, and its competitors are former communists (including the Prime Minister), their descendants, and today’s anti-Fascists in Croatia. The competition is all about forcing and preserving a notion of some righteousness of WWII and post-WWII communists. Well, when it comes to victims of cold-blooded murder of those who did not agree with the communists – there is no righteousness, no excuses, and no justification.
It’s a well-known fact that Communist crimes and atrocities have not received their full due anywhere in the world, so too not in Croatia. As well as in the rest of the world, in Croatia (former Yugoslavia), victims of communism outnumber even those of the Nazis (of Ustashe in Croatia). Part of the reason is that the communists, unlike the Nazis, were, due to strong post WWII political lobby and perpetually publicised Nuremberg Nazi trials, perceived as having noble motives. And, the Croatian government and the President still promote that terrible notion and battle hard to sustain such an increasingly unsustainable perception and reality.
Thankfully, the world has grown up, matured – turning in disgust and revolt against any attempts to justify murder for political gain. And communists murdered multitudes that stood against communism.
For Croatia, 1945 marked the imposition of Communist rule and return to Yugoslavia. Shielded by their fight against Nazi Germany, Communists used WWII to get rid of domestic political competition as well. Tens of thousands fell victim to Communist crimes after WWII. After liberating Croatia from Nazis and establishing the new state of Yugoslavia, Communists went after the anti-Communist Croatian army units who had retreated to Austria (Bleiburg) and surrendered to British troops. Britain, however, turned 340.000 soldiers and civilian refugees over to Yugoslav authorities who, according to different estimates, murdered up to 200,000 of them. Terror continued after Communists had secured power and by 1953, some 116,000 people had been repressed, including 26,947 killed. Although the terror later subdued, Croatia had tens of thousands political prisoners during 1948–88.
To this date over 850 mass graves of victims of WWII and post-WWII communist crimes have been discovered in Croatia alone; the search for new ones still continues.
Many hundreds of thousands (if we take the second and third generations into account) of Croatian victims of communism are still alive today and many of them are strewn all over the world. They include those that survived Bleiburg and the Croatian Way of the Cross that followed after WWII – those hunted down by anti-Fascists or communists after being forced to return to Yugoslavia … and their descendants, many thousands of dissidents subjected to political oppression, several hundreds of thousands murdered after WWII or thrown alive into pits, hundreds of thousands who had no choice but to emigrate from communist Yugoslavia because not being pro-Communism also meant unsustainable existence…dozens upon dozens assassinated abroad by Yugoslav Secret Police UDBA… and all their descendants who, as human beings, deserve recognition of their suffering and justice; the perpetrators must be held responsible whether dead or alive.
People may say that the perpetrators are mostly dead by now. Yes that is the case, but there is also the concept and the possibility to deal with criminals posthumously.
The political leadership, which places political interests above human rights, above justice for all the victims, simply cannot be allowed to thrive. Croatian government and the President of Croatia have demonstrated that they cannot lead the Croatian nation into a fully democratic society because their anti-Fascist political baggage interferes severely with humanity; discriminates between victims according to which political alignment the perpetrators belonged.
It is only natural that victims of communist crimes must have and deserve justice and if the current governing lot in Croatia is to continue in such wicked ways, denying this justice, then not only won’t all the victims receive justice, but there will be no natural justice (a pinnacle of democracy) in Croatia; unless, of course, the victims and victims’ descendants revolt and achieve that justice.
And I, a recipient of Two medals of honour for my contribution to the Croatian Homeland War victory (and I believe neither Zoran Milanovic nor Ivo Josipovic have one; both stood at sidelines guarding the communist league), personally stand here and testify:
Croatia’s President Ivo Josipovic is telling a scandalous lie when he says that anti-Fascist movement stands behind the victory of Croatian Homeland War! What about the majority that fought to defend and create the independent Croatia who had nothing to do with communism or anti-Fascism? What about the Croatian diaspora that overwhelmingly fought and helped create the independent Croatia, that had nothing to do with communism or anti-Fascism? What stood behind the victory in 1990’s Homeland War was an unconditional love for Croatia, an absolute will and determination to abandon communism (anti-Fascism), to develop democracy (which, by the way, was and is not a movement that belongs to anti-Fascism), to reconcile the past by bringing justice for all victims, including the victims of communist crimes, not just a continued acknowledgment and condemnation of Holocaust crimes.
Vast majority of these qualities were never, nor are they now, attributes of anti-Fascism.
My patience is running out; my bon ton is wearing thin, and the thought springs to mind: Zoran Milanovic and Ivo Josipovic stop regurgitating the anti-Fascist bullshit, stop insulting our intelligence and human compassion, and get on with the job of making Croatia a fair and a non-discriminatory society when it comes to victims! Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)